News

Principal's 20-day suspension almost over

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

George Ilgenfritz, principal of Thomas Jefferson High School, will return to work on Wednesday.

The school's teachers and staff were notified the morning of October 20 that Ilgenfritz would be returning to work, said Chuck Christnesen, the districts human resources director.

The principal of the school since 2000, Ilgenfritz was placed on paid leave September 29. In a letter sent to parents on September 30, the district explained it was "as a result of personnel issues". Christensen said at the time a complaint had been lodged against Ilgenfritz.

In a letter sent home to parents on October 20 from the district shed some light on the situation.

"Recently we received complaints from administrative team members regarding the office environment that resulted from Principal George IlgenfritzÂ’s behavior," the district's letter stated.

Christensen said the complaint was not filed by a teacher, and the letter was written to put to rest rumors at the school a teacher had been the source of the complaint.

"We drew a very a bright line," he said.

"After reviewing the investigative report, we found it appropriate to place Mr. Ilgenfritz on a 20-day suspension without pay. He will return to work on Wednesday, October 27, 2004. The days already served on administrative leave will be considered part of the official suspension," the letter continued.

The fine will be applied to future paychecks, according to Christensen. Ilgefritz is paid about $8,000 a month before taxes.

Ilgenfritz raised the ire of some parents and students at the high school before the academic year started when it was learned he had removed a popular teacher from his advisory positions.

David Vinson had been the advisor of the school's leadership team and student government for nine years. Ilgenfritz directed him back to the English department, and several students and parents questioned and objected to the move. They attempted to speak to the school board, but were stopped before they could speak by boardmember Ed Barney. He said the board did not discuss personnel matters in a public forum.

Before coming to Federal Way Public Schools, Ilgenfritz worked in the Auburn and Snoqualmie districts. He was a teacher, assistant principal and principal at Auburn High School from 1984 to 1999. He was the principal of Mount Si High School from 1999 to 2001 before coming to Federal Way. According to those districts, he was never placed on paid administrative leave or was disciplined.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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