COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - About a third of Pine Creek High School staff didn’t show up to school Friday after their principal, Tracie Cormaney, was placed on administrative leave two and a half weeks ago by Academy District 20.
“She greets students at the door every single day, every single day,” said Pam Krzeczowski, Cormaney’s administrative assistant. “It didn't take too long to say, ‘Where's Cormaney? What's happening? What's happening at Pine Creek?’”
Cormaney has been an educator for 30 years, as a teacher, athletic director, assistant principal, and principal, including at Pine Creek and Rampart High Schools.
“Tracy is the glue that holds Pine Creek together,” said Kelley Stewart, a Pine Creek school counselor. “Since her absence, the building lacks charisma and positivity, and the halls are flooded with a sense of worry about the unknown.”
Academy District 20 administration placed Cormaney on leave in January, but the staff claimed they were never told by the district why she wasn’t at school for more than two weeks. Staff told KRDO13 Investigates two assistant superintendents came to the school yesterday but provided few answers. Without her, the staff said the school isn’t the same.
“The mental anxiety and stress level in the building is tremendous,” Krzeczowski said. “Students have been in counseling in tears. Teachers have been in tears in the classrooms.”
Krzeczowski said she believes Cormaney was placed on administrative leave regarding a teacher incentive program she has been doing for years. Krzeczowski said teachers could receive monetary gifts for participating in certain games. She said it helped retain teachers and the school has followed “all financial procedures, laws, and policies.”
Academy District 20 could not confirm if the incentive program was the reason Cormaney was placed on administrative leave, saying personnel matters are confidential. The district said it is conducting a thorough investigation which will take time.
“During the entirety of Ms. Cormaney’s absence, five dedicated administrators, including Assistant Superintendent of Planning & Engagement Dr. Jim Smith, will be on-site to ensure continuity of learning and address any immediate needs that may arise,” said Academy District 20 Superintendent Jinger Haberer.
We reached out to Cormaney about her being placed on administrative leave but she never responded. The Colorado Springs Police Department said there is no criminal investigation into Cormaney.
“We have done nothing wrong here,” Krzeczowski said. “I can wholeheartedly say that as a person that has been interviewed and we need our principal back.”
On Friday, at least 55 Pine Creek High School staff, about a third of the school, called out in protest. They are asking D20 to reinstate Cormaney as principal.
“This is not our normal everyday process,” Krzeczowski said. “We've never done this before. But when you feel like something is truly wrong, stand up for what is right.”
Due to the anticipated staff “walk-out,” about two-thirds of Pine Creek students didn’t show up to school, according to the district. However, despite the absences, all classrooms were covered and students attended class as normal, according to D20. In response to the “walk-out’s” impact on student education, staff said they are setting an example for their students.
“When people are treated poorly, activate and stand up for yourselves,” Krzeczowski said.