August 13, 2013
Tuesday marked day two of the school year for students in Fluvanna County, and middle schoolers have a new principal. But if some parents have it their way, her days at the helm of the school are numbered.
Dozens of parents and community members have already signed an online petition asking for the "immediate resignation or termination" of Dr. Yardley Farquharson.
John Flick, the man who started the petition to send Farquharson packing, has a son in seventh grade. He says since the new principal took over, his son is expected to follow new rules.
"He could not go to the bus by himself, he could not go to lunch by himself, they had basically assigned seating at lunch where they had to sit with their class, they were not allowed to socialize, [had to use] whisper voices at lunch, no talking in the hallway at all," said Flick.
Parents took to social media to vent their frustrations and gain support from each other.
Concerns poured into the Newsplex's Facebook page, including notes that, "Immediate termination is the only solution," "My son came yesterday crying saying she yelled at him" and "In some lines of business there is only one chance for first impressions. Being a leader of a school is at the top of the list."
In an email to a Newsplex reporter, superintendent Gena Keller said she did not believe the situation to be "as newsworthy as the Facebook pages would seem to portray."
But parents maintain the principal went too far.
"I understand new rules and I understand that sometimes things change and that it's difficult for children to get adjusted, but the issue came with reports of her yelling at children and speaking in a demeaning tone," said Flick.
This is not the first time Dr. Farquharson has been at the center of controversy.
At her last job in Petersburg, parents circulated a petition and asked the school board that she not be brought back as principal.
In June of 2012, students at Peabody Middle School said she bullied kids and would not cooperate with parents.
Some parents fear Fluvanna County Middle School could follow in those footsteps.
"I don't want my kid to feel scared or intimidated when they go to school. I mean, nobody should have to put up with that," said Robert Brown, whose son is in the fifth grade.
While some parents say the damage has already been done, Brown is not ruling out a second chance at a first impression.
"We'll have to wait and see. We'll have to wait and see what she does to make this right," said Brown.
Farquharson could not be reached for an interview Tuesday. In a phone call, Keller said she and Farquharson would not be commenting Tuesday. School board members did not respond to an email Tuesday.
Keller says there is a plan to address the situation, but declined to elaborate.
Tuesday evening, Farquharson sent the following email to parents:
Good evening, this is Dr. Farquharson, your child's principal at Fluvanna Middle School. I am very excited to be a part of Fluvanna County Public Schools. Yesterday was the first day of school for our children. A day full of excitement, socializing with friends, talking about expectations and meeting new teachers. After recognizing that the approach I took to establish parameters and expectationS was perceived negatively, I spent time today with each grade level . It gave me an opportunity to talk directly with students and "start over." My goal is to partner with you and make Fluvanna Middle School the best it can be. I look forward to making this happen with your help. Please consider joining me for a Meet and Greet on Thursday, August 15 at 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the FMS Media Center. If you are unable to attend, please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to working with you to make this a great year for Fluvanna Middle School.