May 24, 2023

Arguing That Work Environment at PPS is Toxic and Superintendent Should Resign

To the Editor:

On May 15, there was a public hearing requested by Mr. Frank Chmiel to persuade the Board of Education (BOE) to renew his contract. The statements from Dr. Kelley and Mr. Chmiel were so different that nobody can easily conclude from it without further investigation.

Here are several observations I made during this hearing:

1. Only two Princeton High School (PHS) staff members spoke in the hearing, who are both near retirement age. It means teachers are afraid of being punished by saying anything about Mr. Chmiel (either in support or not in support).

2. The district didn’t make the safety guidelines clear. For example, whether a PHS alumni entering the building should be treated as an intruder or when a lockdown should be called (there was never any lockdown called in memorable history of PHS).

3. For everything that happened in PHS, Mr. Chmiel was at school no matter early morning or late afternoon. He even spent many weekends at school-related events but was still blamed for not being perfect. However, Dr. Kelley was barely around when critical things happened.

4. Dr. Kelley made the conclusion even without enough observations. The expensive lawyer that the BOE hired was supposed to respond whether Dr. Kelley violated the state law or not, but he didn’t.

The above observations imply my below opinions:

1. The work environment led by Dr. Kelley is very toxic. We all know “the more you do, the more mistakes you may make.” If people are punished for mistakes, then nobody will do real work. A toxic workplace punishes people for making mistakes, but a good environment helps people learn from mistakes. A toxic workplace prevents people from making any comments, but a healthy environment encourages people to show opinions. Unfortunately, Dr. Kelley failed to create a good working environment, and as a result PPS cannot attract good teachers or staff.

2. School safety needs everyone’s effort, not just the principal. Also, any safety concerns should be transparent to parents. While the BOE mentioned they received many safety/protocol related concerns/complaints, as a parent I never received such communication from the district.

3. PPS should not keep alumni out. The way Mr. Chmiel did should be appreciated. He welcomed the visiting alumni back and toured with them on weekends. If the district can create a protocol to allow visiting alumni back under certain safety guidelines, people will never need to sneak in.

As Mara [Franceschi] said, we need change. Therefore, in my opinion, Dr. Kelley should resign. She is the root cause of the toxic work environment. Moreover, instead of bringing positive change to PPS, she created chaos in the community and didn’t show her intention to improve.

Jie Li
Arreton Road