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RACINE — Mitchell Middle School, which experienced numerous behavioral issues last school year, will again be getting a new principal.

Principal Demetri Beekman, who was brought into the school last fall after violent incidents were reported, is leaving Mitchell at the end of the month.

RUSD Spokesperson Stacy Tapp confirmed that on July 1, Fratt Elementary School Directing Principal Priscilla Marquez will step in as principal at Mitchell.

“We are excited to re-introduce Ms. Priscilla Marquez to Mitchell School families. Ms. Marquez previously served as assistant principal at Mitchell and built strong relationships with families and staff there,” Tapp wrote in a statement. “Though this is a change for Mitchell School, Ms. Marquez is ready to reconnect and build new relationships with families and staff to continue moving Mitchell School forward.”

Staff at both Fratt and Mitchell were notified on Monday and Tapp said the district would start notifying parents in the coming days.

According to minutes from the May 8 the Waukesha School Board meeting, that board voted unanimously to hire Beekman as the School District of Waukesha's director of equity and educator development. 

From Julian Thomas to Mitchell

Beekman was transferred from Julian Thomas Elementary to Mitchell in late October after 70 teachers filed a grievance stating students were out of control at Mitchell and that there had been violent incidents against staff.

Beekman was so beloved that a group of 70 people from Julian Thomas protested his move to Mitchell. Test scores at Julian Thomas had increased every year after Beekman became principal in 2015, and several teachers who spoke to The Journal Times attributed those results to his leadership. Tapp at the time confirmed the district hoped he could do a similar turnaround at Mitchell.

In December, Tabatha Cruz, a parent at Mitchell, told the Journal Times that Beekman was a “godsend” and said that while safety was still a concern she felt the school was making baby steps in the right direction.

The Journal Times reached out to Cruz but did not receive an immediate response.

Within his first few months on the job, Beekman hired three behavior interventionists, filled two special education teacher vacancies and posted a full-time staff member to monitor guests to the building.

He also implemented a zero-tolerance policy for students putting their hands on teachers, which would result in a disciplinary hearing where school officials could decide whether or not a student could remain at the school.

But in March and May, two more high-profile incidents arose at Mitchell involving physical altercations.

Cassandra Fleury, who has a child going into 8th grade at Mitchell and was involved at the school, said she was disappointed to hear the news that Beekman was leaving.

“We spent an entire year working on future plans to improve the school environment which now may never come to fruition because he chose to leave,” Fleury said. “It is disheartening and frustrating.”

Fleury said she learned about the decision second-hand and as of Thursday night she hadn’t received a letter or phone call from the district about the decision.

The Journal Times was unable to reach out to Beekman for comment.

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Reporter

Christina Lieffring covers the City of Racine and the City of Burlington and is a not-bad photographer. In her spare time she tries to keep her plants and guinea pigs alive and happy.

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