PARADISE VALLEY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- On Monday, the Paradise Valley Unified School District governing board unanimously approved the resignation of superintendent Dr. Jesse Welsh. This comes after the district decided to return to virtual learning due to rising COVID-19 cases.

Dr. James Lee will take over as interim superintendent. It's unclear if he will have any different views about keeping kids in school.

the Paradise Valley Unified School District governing board unanimously approved the resignation of superintendent Dr. Jesse Welsh.

Board members couldn't say why Welsh stepped down, but Arizona's Family talked to parents and teachers who are convinced it's because of threats directed at the superintendent.

A couple of weeks ago, PVUSD went back to online learning with COVID-19 cases on the rise. It's a decision that upset a number of parents who rallied outside a school board meeting and demanded that in-person classes continues. 

"We can all disagree - disagreement is fine -it's how you disagree and it's unacceptable to threaten people - to harass them," said Rebecca Oaks, a parent.

"I'm devastated, and I'm embarrassed - he has poured his heart and soul into doing what is best for community and there is no simple solution," said Marissa O'Connor, a parent.

Welsh has come under attack on social media, with one that supports in-person learning posting where Welsh lives. Paradise Valley School Board President Anne Greenberg says it's time all community members stop the harsh rhetoric in the best interest of the kids.

"I always believe if you can sit down, you can talk, you can come to a decision. Not everybody will appreciate the decisions. They won't like end result but you can get there - get there by talking," said Greenberg.

"They are in an impossible situation, and they aren't going to please everyone," said Francoise Michelle Aronfeld, a parent.

Aronfeld said some comments directed at Welsh and other board members have turned ugly. On Saturday, one teacher started a petition in support of Welsh. 

"This is not the way we are as a society, and it is not the way the PV community is. We are supposed to be a family," said Aronfeld. 

A handful of of PV schools teachers protesting Welsh's resignation gathered outside the board meeting Monday. They carried signs, including one that said, "Spread kindness, not COVID."

Meantime, Lisa Farr, a PV parent, has said she would be happy to see Welsh go. She said the superintendent was not listening to parents. Farr would like to have the option of in-person learning.

"Definitely, the parents are not happy, and we have been extremely, extremely vocal about it," said Farr.

District officials sent Arizona's Family this statement prior to Monday's meeting:

The Paradise Valley Unified School District Governing Board will convene for a special meeting on Monday and will vote to go into an executive session. The purpose of the executive session is for legal consultation and direction regarding a potential resignation agreement for the superintendent. Discussion of assignment/employment of an acting superintendent may occur as well. Once the executive session concludes, the Governing Board will reconvene the special meeting. If there is any action that would need to be taken, it would be done so during the special meeting by a vote of the Board.

Since the Governing Board has not met to discuss, it would be inappropriate for either the Governing Board or the District to speculate and comment prior to Monday's meeting.

Once the meeting on Monday concludes, and we know more information, we will make sure to share it with the community.

 

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