Fired Water Valley principal appeals action by new superintendent

Published 11:57 am Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Water Valley High School Principal Justin Geurin was recently fired after only four weeks into the new school year by Superintendent Michael McInnis.

Geurin was named principal  July 1 after serving as assistant vice principal for two years at the high school. He succeeded Glenn Kitchens, who is now the principal at Lafayette High School.

Geurin has chosen to appeal McInnis’ decision to the Water Valley School Board. A hearing was held Friday in Water Valley that lasted from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Testimony was given by both sides, as to whether or not they felt the dismissal was warranted.

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McInnis, who also started as superintendent this summer, said he fired Geurin for neglect of duty.

Specifically, McInnis said Geurin failed to complete the i-Ready diagnostic program for 10th- and 11th-graders.

“I purchased the i-Ready program for this school year,” McInnis said. “It’s a very good program that allows us to see where students are in reading and math.”

Water Valley has been given a “D” grade by the state and McInnis said programs like i-Ready are essential in bringing up the students’ scores.

“It’s very serious we address the students in 10th and 11th grade and this wasn’t done in a timely fashion,” McInnis said. “He has consistently failed to meet deadlines given by me and has missed several meetings. It is my charge, as well as everyone here, to get this school an A grade, and to accomplish that we have to surround ourselves in excellence.”

Geurin told the EAGLE this morning he did not feel any of his offenses were “fireable.”

“Principals are not fired in September unless they’ve committed something illegal, which I certainly have not done,” Geurin said. “I’m not here to say I’m perfect and have done everything right. But this is my first year as head principal and I’m trying to learn. I’ve worked hard to gain the trust of my faculty, students and the community. But I’ve been let go because I missed a few arbitrary deadlines set by the superintendent that did not negatively affect the students or school.”

McInnis put Geurin on an improvement plan on Sept. 4 with a deadline to meet certain objectives of Sept. 30, but then fired Geurin on Sept. 14.

“I’m going to put my students and teachers’ needs first,” Geurin said. “Administrative paperwork comes secondary.”

Geurin said the support of the school community has helped him and his family persevere through this trying time.

“I am 100 percent overwhelmed and humbled from the support I’ve received from everyone,” he said. “One thing that’s helped me stay positive and keep fighting is the support I’ve had. During the hearing, a large group of students sat there all day. You just don’t see that.”

The hearing transcripts will be given to school board members who will make a ruling to either uphold McInnis’ decision or reverse it.