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Barron Collier High band members rally for ousted director Kelly Parker


Barron Collier High band members rally for ousted director Kelly Parker

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Monday, August 2, 2010

NAPLES — Members of the Barron Collier High School band put down their instruments and picked up signs Monday afternoon, standing in the heat to show their support for ousted band director Kelly Parker.

Parker learned last week that she would no longer be leading the Barron band, after being with the program for more than 20 years. Parker has been transferred to teach music at Golden Terrace Elementary School.

“We want to raise awareness mostly that (the district) is not going to walk all over us,” said Junior Danielle Karaczun, 16, who plays the French horn in the band. “We think there needs to be an investigation because the reasons for moving her are ridiculous.”

Parker’s removal from her position stem from “procedural issues over several years” and the recommendation of Principal Tim Kutz, Collier County School District officials said last week.

Allun Hamblett, the deputy chief administrative officer for the district, said the district decided it was in its best interest to transfer Parker to Golden Terrace Elementary School after reviewing the issues and Kutz’s recommendation.

When asked specifically what those issues were, district officials would not get into details, except to say that Parker was not transferred as a punitive or disciplinary action.

But Parker’s personnel file shows she was reprimanded three times during the 2009-10 school year, including a three-day suspension without pay for keeping students on the football field after the school’s lightning sensors went off.

Parent Mark Block said he smells a rat over the situation.

“This is abiding the rules to a ridiculous and absurd end. Kelly Parker has, for 23 years, done nothing but give her heart and soul to the band,” he said.

Parker has declined to comment on the transfer, except to say that she had hoped to lead the Barron band for many years to come.

The students stood along the sidewalk just south of Naples Boulevard along Airport Pulling Road Monday, holding signs that said “Bring Parker Back” and “BCHS Needs Kelly Parker.” Several of those driving by the scene honked their horns in support of the students.

“We want to see Ms. Parker back,” said Tom Morrissey, a junior who plays clarinet in the band. “The timing is reckless to do it now. The preparation that starts in band camp is crucial. And Ms. Parker is the one person most able to carry out our traditions.”

The one person whose attention the students and parents were hoping to capture is out of town this week. Superintendent Dennis Thompson, who has the power to change Parker’s fate, will not return to work until next Monday, district officials said.

When he does come back to work, it might be too late for Parker. Kutz, Barron Collier High School’s Principal, has told the Barron Collier High School community he hopes to have a new band director in place by the start of band camp on Monday, Aug. 9.

Leanne Zinser, spokeswoman for the Collier County School District said Kutz’s current timeline for hiring a new band director is the paper screening of applicants Monday, with interviews starting Wednesday.

Melissa Kelly, 16-year-old junior who plays trombone in the band, said while a new director could coach the students musically, no band director could replace what Parker means to the students.

“She’s like our mother. She wants what’s best for us,” she said. “Mr. Kutz said he was doing this because it was what’s best for the kids. Clearly this is not best for us.”

Lynne Morrissey, whose son Tom plays in the band, credits Parker for changing her son’s life. She said she was proud to stand along her son and his fellow band members in support of Parker.

“The kids did all of this. ... The fact that all of these people are out here today, that we have over 400 signatures on a petition to keep Ms. Parker, that should say something,” she said. “We’re not trying to change a policy. We just want a teacher back. They can find a replacement to teach music at the elementary school. It is degrading to her to put her at an elementary school when all of these kids want her here.”

Barron Collier High School 2010 graduate Megan Attanasio, said she was perplexed at why a school would want to get rid of a band director who had led Barron’s programs to superior ratings at state competitions and marching band festivals, and who had a student make the all-state band.

“It’s just irresponsible to do this at the last minute,” she said. “Mostly, it’s unfair to the kids. We’ve heard it is to put us in a better environment, but that is not the case at all.”

Senior Morgan Block, who is the 17-year-old band captain, said he hopes the rally raises public awareness to the situation.

“It is in the best interest of the students to keep Ms. Parker,” he said.

But when asked if it might be too late to bring her back — what with the superintendent being on vacation and the principal hoping to find a replacement by the end of the week — Morgan said he wasn’t ready to give up hope.

“I don’t think it’s too late,” he said. “She is the heart of the band. Without her, there is no one to support the true heart of the band.”

Parent Susan Cairns said the Barron Collier High School band is not ready to accept defeat.

“What happened to her is unconscionable,” she said. “She gives our kids a very unique music experience. ... If you have the drive and the initiative, she helps you to become a musician. .. She encouraged my daughter to start composing.”

Supporters are also signing an online petition at to convince the school district to reinstate Parker.

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Original: Barron Collier High band members rally for ousted director Kelly Parker » Naples Daily News

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Barron Collier High band members rally for ousted director Kelly Parker