Clark On Leave Causes Conflict

Supporters continue to demonstrate, seeking answers.


Photo by Kenzie Veterino

Demonstraters hold signs in support of Clark

Kenzie Vetorino, Staff Writer

Patrick Clark, the principal at Barnstable High School for 12 years now, has been on administrative leave since the opening of school. In response,  a group of parents have been standing each morning on the sidewalk in front of the school across from  the Dunkin Donuts to support Clark. Because his leave is a personnel and legal matter no one can give information on why Clark was placed on leave.

There are several people filling in for Clark to get his job done. Assistant Superintendent Kristen Harmon  is the administrator in charge  at BHS. Harmon is supporting the other administrators such as Assistant Principals Mr. Scott Pyy, Mrs. Hope Taylor, and Mr. Steve Kaser. Harmon said she has been working in the Barnstable Public School district for 26 years. She  began here at BHS as a math teacher, and taught for 12 years before becoming the department head.  She  then became the curriculum coordinator for the math department. “It’s nice to be in the building again,” said Harmon. 

As she is still continuing her assistant superintendent duties, Harmon said it’s all about prioritizing. She said she is  very impressed with how everyone is adjusting to this school year. 

Students did take notice of the fact that Clark is not at the school. Sophomore student Haley Demanche said she misses Clark in the building and his cheerfulness in the hallways. She thinks that he is helpful to the students. 

“I remember on my first day of eighth grade I had no idea how to get to the PAC and he helped me get there,” said Demanche, adding  that the staff has been very supportive with students coming back to school. 

Some students like Demanche want to see Clark back in the building. Demanche said that not having Clark in the building is “weird” especially in these uncertain times.” I think Mr.Clark works really hard as the principal, ”  said Demanche. 

In these uncertain times it’s hard to have a sense of normal, she said, but school is kind of bringing back that normalcy.  “But with the masks and social distancing, seeing Mr. Clark still wouldn’t be normal,” said Demanche.   

Nothing these days is normal but students are getting into a new routine.  “I am very impressed by how everyone is adjusting, ” said Harmon. It’s all about keeping students safe and healthy at BHS, she added. 

However some parents are still concerned that there has been no update on whether Clark will return as Principal or when that will be. Parent Kristan Cronan, who has a daughter at BHS, feels very strongly about Clark not being in the building. She  said that her child, a junior,  would be safer with Clark at the school and not be just another nameless student. Cronan thinks that no one is there to help navigate her child in one of the most important years of her high school career. “He has her best interest in her education and will go out of his way to help my daughter navigate,” said Cronan.

Cronan has also shown her support for Clark with other parents and community members in front of the school across from Dunkin in the morning. She can no longer be there because of her work schedule, but said her husband tries to go once a week. “ The first week of Mr. Clark being put on leave I protested every morning,” said Cronan. 

Cronan has also said that the parents were not properly informed of the situation at first. She also said the email that Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown sent out announcing his leave “poorly addressed it in a rush”.  While many parents and community members wrote in and/or spoke for more than three hours during public comment in support of Clark during an October School Committee meeting, Cronan also believes that there should be more protesting and more complaint emails. “We as parents still don’t have answers,” said Cronan.