Principal Abelmann deserves respect
November 21, 2011
Last week the well liked and respected Principal of Aspen High School resigned and was out of town in a flash. The official line from both Principal Abelmann and Superintendent Maloy is that Abelmann resigned for personal reasons and was going back to his home in New Hampshire.
Those of us who have gotten to know Art over the past year and a half, who entertained him in our homes, lunched with him, consulted on our student’s progress and worked at the high school with him know that this type of departure is completely out of character.
Art has a genuine love and concern for the Aspen students and community and would have wanted to say goodbye to all of us if given the opportunity. A more likely scenario is that a difference of opinion on the operation of Aspen High School arose between Mr. Abelmann and Mr. Maloy. Superintendent Maloy has been given complete discretion, via the Aspen School Board’s Policy Governance procedures, over all hiring and firing decisions, and as such, if Mr. Maloy does not like the direction an employee is taking he has every right to make a change.
Art Abelmann was hired with a two year contract; he gave up his friends and family in New Hampshire and made a commitment to Aspen. The students of Aspen welcomed Art eighteen months ago with fears and rumors of a closed campus, no more Ex. Ed., a potential dress code, but soon learned that their new principal was one of their strongest advocates for a safe, successful and rewarding high school experience. Amazingly, Art soon learned all of the student’s names and was a friendly face in the hallways of AHS, taking a genuine interest in all of the children. The teachers at AHS greeted an “outsider” as principal and may have had disagreements with Art, but I cannot imagine anyone on the staff questioning his commitment to our children. Shaking things up a bit can be a good thing when new ideas are brought into our insular valley.
Our litigious society is the most likely reason Art Abelmann was forced to leave without any proper goodbyes to his students, parents and his faith community. When disagreements, money and contracts are involved, there can be unfortunate consequences. We all are aware of the low rates of pay for educators, and we would bet that the only way the financial aspects of Art’s contract were going to be fulfilled, necessitated his speedy departure from Aspen.
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We feel that the departure of Art Abelmann is unfortunate on so many levels, specifically the effect it is having on many of our children who have lost a friend, mentor and counselor during a very important part of the high school year, especially for seniors in the throes of college applications. Hopefully, when situations such as this arise in the future, the adults making the decisions can focus solely on our students and not their personal/professional disagreements or on contractual obligations.
Carmen and James Dowley