August 14, 2013
Fluvanna County parents angry with what they call inappropriate behavior by the new middle school principal got offline and into the same room Wednesday evening. Upset moms and dads have taken to social media since school started on Monday to air their grievances with Dr. Yardley Farquharson.
Wednesday night, they expressed some of the same concerns that have flooded the internet this week, this time face to face with the school board and the woman on the receiving end of their comments.
"She's complete eviscerated any confidence that I have in her ability to nurture our children toward a decent education," said Fluvanna County parent Richard Warden. "This is middle school, not a chain gang."
Several parents said they do not agree with Farquharson's strict standards.
They say their children were ordered to walk on one side of the hallway, could not go to their lockers or restroom unattended, were banned from using the cafeteria microwaves and recess privileges were taken away for 5th graders, among other new rules. But it was Farquharson's alleged "demeaning tone" that was the last straw for some.
"She berates kids in the hall publicly whether they did anything wrong or not. That is unacceptable," said Warden.
But middle school teacher Stephanie Fraizure says she hasn't witnessed that kind of behavior from the new leader.
"From what I noticed, I saw a projected voice. That is my experience. I did not see yelling," said Fraizure.
While many remarks during Wednesday's public comment session were negative, some parents say it's too soon to judge.
"I don't know a parent, I don't know many adults, who haven't taken a tone with a child that they regret," said Kerry Murphy-Hammond.
"In her defense, maybe that's what she thought was expected of her or what we wanted if nobody set the bar," said Caryn Guilliams.
This is not the first time Dr. Farquharson has been at the center of controversy.
"She did the exact same thing at another school, and I cried because I could not believe that someone was brought into our school system and she had a reputation like this," said parent Kimberly Flick.
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.
A petition started in Fluvanna County on Monday has already amassed nearly 200 signatures calling for the "immediate resignation or termination" of the new principal.
Farquharson did not address parents following public comment. She will host a meet and greet at the middle school Thursday evening.