Montgomery County principal who set up 'smash space' resigns

- A Montgomery County principal who created a “smash space” on the grounds of her elementary school is stepping down from her position.

Barbara Liess sent out a letter to parents and staff members of Kensington Parkwood Elementary School informing them of her departure on Tuesday. She will remain at the school until June 30 and will seek another position within the Montgomery County school system.

Liess apologized last week after she said she had set up an area in the school’s loading dock where staff teachers and staff members could use a baseball bat to hit a broken rocking chair as a way to help them reduce stress. The principal called the creation of the “smash space” a lapse in judgment. Montgomery County Public Schools also said they did not “condone this behavior by our staff.”

In her letter to parents on Tuesday, Liess wrote:

“Dear Staff and Families of Kensington Parkwood Elementary School:

“I am honored to have been the principal of Kensington Parkwood Elementary for the past ten years. In that time I have worked with the most talented and dedicated staff to serve a truly wonderful community. We have all worked together to create a school for which we can be proud.

“During the last ten years we have successfully grown and maintained our practices as an arts integration school; one of the many things that sets Kensington Parkwood apart from other schools. Together we have also created a welcoming and truly inclusive special education program and have embraced social emotional learning through our restorative circles and social skills lessons. In addition, we have nurtured the growth of future educators through our partnership with the University of Maryland. I will forever look back on the work we have done together with pride.

“Recent events have been a distraction from the positive things we have been able to achieve. Therefore, in light of the care that I have for our staff, students, and community, I have decided to seek a new position in Montgomery County Public Schools. I will remain at Kensington Parkwood through June 30, 2017 in order to support a successful transition to the 2017-2018 school year.

“Dr. Sarah Sirgo, director, School Support and Improvement, will be in touch with you in the coming days regarding next steps in the principal selection process. I am confident that the candidates for this principalship will be able to build on the work we have achieved together.

“The time I have spent at Kensington Parkwood Elementary School is among the most memorable of my professional career. I look forward to my next steps and thank you for all of your support.”

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