Aaron Harper’s Resignation – Surprised, But Welcomed

Last Thursday, Aaron Harper resigned as East Ridge High School principal, following an investigation conducted after School District 833 received a complaint against him. No details about the complaint and the resignation were revealed.

Read the article from Woodbury Bulletin: East Ridge’s Harper out as principal after complaint investigated 

I was surprised by the news like most people in the community. As far as I know, the teachers at ERHS knew no more about the circumstance than the public.

I do not know Mr. Harper, except I saw him a few times at ERHS events. I know I should not form an opinion about someone I don’t really know, but I have to say that Mr. Harper didn’t leave me with a good impression due to his own action or inaction. On two occasions, I contacted him via phone and email, he never responded to me. Ignoring once was understandable and acceptable, but ignoring twice created a really bad impression when you are considered a leader in the community. Now I don’t remember the reasons why I contacted him, but no matter how trivia my inquiries were, it’s common courtesy and good manner to respond to people or forward the requests on to others who will respond.

A friend told me that Mr. Harper made a racial comment at a sport event that wasn’t appropriate.

I know Mr. Harper has made great contribution to the community. He led East Ridge since its opening in fall 2009, and he was instrumental in planning for the school beginning in 2007.

Mr. Harper might have done big and great things and done well for the school and for the community, but for someone like me, it’s the little things that break the deal.

I would like a principal who shows more common sense and courtesy, who will respond to my questions either directly or indirectly. As a community leader, the principal should be a good communicator who values the inquiries and feedback from the public. Ignoring people will only cause a bad impression and opinion.

Two years ago, I was equally surprised by the news about then Superintendent Mark Porter’s contract not being renewed by the district. I didn’t know Mr. Porter either, I only saw him at school events. But he left a good impression in me for the simple fact that he responded to my email promptly. As the result, I was on his side and questioned the school board’s unfair decision.

Read the post Performance review and Porter decision.

Here is a lesson for all – little things do matter. That is one of the secrets to becoming an effective leader.

Update from January 6, 2015:

For the update on the case, please visit Woodbury Bulletin:

Harper misused school money, kept ‘slush fund’ at East Ridge

14 Responses

  1. m

    While my kids have loved SW schools the system has just grown too large and now just feeds its own administration. There are a lot of questionable ethics. At Park HS special ed teachers openly give answers to students on their tests- it is a running joke with the teachers and paras – “how did so-and-so-special-ed teacher do on their test” (that a student should be taking). And you can’t bring it up with the current admin – you will be fired and career ruined. Current teacher told me it is a atmosphere of fear. Teachers seem to care if students learn but admin just wants to look good on paper – they don’t really care about kids. Instead of telling us how many kids make it to college (some with vastly inflated grades) tell us how many of our HS graduates actually graduate from college, or how many pass a college level math or English class and don’t get stuck in a developmental class because they were just passed along. One wise Park teacher told me what he does is look over his grades at the end of a tri. Then he just adds in homework points until all the students are passing. Smart man, he still has a job. That’s what it takes to be a teacher for SWC – caving to admin that does not give you real support, they just want everyone passing no matter the cost. Two of the best math and science teachers my kids have ever had (one led my daughter to score in 100%ile on Explore science test) have left. Why? Probably because they cared. I think it is time that large school districts be disbanded and neighborhoods go back to running the schools. I would like to see a report on just how many administration and non-teachers are employees compared to teachers – I’ll bet teachers are vastly outnumbered! Quit stuffing kids into our classes (at WHS I hear some classes are near 40, my own daughter said a student smoked in a class and the teacher did not even know it was so crowded) and instead of hiring yet another director or assistant director for “get-out-the-vote-for-yet-another-referendum” how about hiring 3 new teachers. In fact if we cut out all our district admin we could probably hire 100 teachers and have class sizes slashed. I can’t stand to hear another teacher complain about how her assistant principal hides in his office, yes even with a do not disturb sign, while he somehow finds time to earn his Phd. Hire more good teachers who care for kids, dump the bloated admin.

  2. David

    I substitute taught in this guys class when he taught Biology at Irondale High School. His classes were one of the worst that I substitute taught in. The kids were way out of control and could not sit still or be quiet during a movie that was to be shown.

  3. ERHS common man

    Don’t apologise Qin. The recent revealings show EXACTLY what kind of character Aaron Harper is. ZERO remorse for his theft of OUR tax money AND he has the audacity to write a ‘resignation’ letter making no apology for his criminal acts? Good riddance. Bad start to a great school.

    We wonder why our kids are failing when the LEADER of a school is a common thief. What could worse you ask? When people actually DEFEND his actions publicly….it’s so stupid you can’t make it up.

  4. I was surprised that quite a few people left comments to this post.

    Thanks everyone for your feedback. I learned another lesson. To get feedback, just be honest and write something negative. Some people for sure will not like it and let you know.

    Thanks for reminding me about my small mindedness. You know I already knew it. I thought we are all in the same boat.

    Yes, I do have a life and a busy life, that’s why I didn’t intend to respond to any comments. I have other important things to do.

    I think some people read way too much into my post than intended.

    I was simply sharing my personal impression, my personal opinion, and a lesson I learned from it: little things do matter.

    Did I say someone should resign from a great job or deserve such consequences because of “petty” little things? NO.

    As for the racial comment, it was from an ERHS parent I totally trust and respect. She mentioned it during a private conversation between us. Since she didn’t choose to come forward with more details, I respected her choice. There was no reason for her or for me to lie about this.

    When you lie, you tend to think everyone else lies too, just like you. Isn’t that right?

    As for the comment about the school board’s decision not to retain Mr. Porter, I apologize for being not clear and complete with my statement. I was not the only one who questioned the decision, there were a lot of people in the community who came together, questioned the decision and supported him. My position came from more than just him responding to my email.

    Everyone is different and is entitled to his own opinion and ideas. You are welcome to form and share your own opinion and ideas, but don’t put other people down when you don’t agree with them. You don’t elevate yourself by devaluing other people.


  5. Sally

    Small minds think alike, right? Would you like to resign from a great job because some tiny dingalings were wanting to lie about an unanswered message you ..??? SAY YOU MADE. And lets throw in second, thrid, forth, hand he said, tiny said, nixon said, information that your harmless little self thinks is the REASON… How about this little thing, get a life and stay away from stupid statements online. If your INTO being ignorant I hope some friend helps your little brain get this!

  6. Steve Swensen

    IMHO I’m going with the assumption if Mr. Harper voluntarily resigned he did so for good reason in that whatever offense occurred it was in everyone’s best interests that he do so. As far as ex-Superintendent Porter goes I do remember the number of times and reasons I reached out to him. It was on behalf of special education and special needs students in the district. Not once did he respond to my inquiries and it wasn’t until I went to the school board that I received the courtesy of a response. I applauded the board then and I still do so today for their decision not to retain Mr. Porter. And my position is based on much more than his not being responsive to a few inquiries of mine.

  7. Mike

    A big problem is the school board like Ms Brown who manages communication . They expect the public to fund the school with million dollar levys but won’t tell public what happened in these matters

    Mere Gestapo like

  8. RC

    I hope further investigation goes into the admittance policy of Mr Harper. There have been many instances of Stud Athletes from both inside and outside the district being admitted to ER yet common students find out that they have a ‘Closed Enrollment’ policy.

    Ever since the school has opened there have been instances where all of a sudden transfers appear but when questions about how and where these kids come from, ‘student privacy’ or other roadblocks are enacted. There have been a couple instances when the MSHSL has been brought in to the discussion but due to a district administrator decision, the eligibility has magically been allowed.

    I hope that someone will be brought in to end this garbage.

  9. HY

    Yes, the devil’s in the detail. No, you should NOT take your article down till “all facts” are in as one of the comments suggested BECAUSE you have the right to form YOUR opinion and speak out . By the way, a high school student should know how to spell commonly used words, to say the very least. Thank you.

  10. ERHS Student

    It sounds like you’re just venting about him not responding to your email…thats petty considering you haven’t even spoken to him. Also I find it highly inappropriate that you can say he made a racial comment that you heard from a friend, sounds like something a highscooler would do…maybe it’s just me but i think you should take this down till all the facts are in.

  11. Ken

    If he made a racial comment I would like to know more about what was said , intensity or joking matter , who directed at , etc. One comment and a apology by Harper would have allowed for forgiveness

Comments are closed.