After an unsavory series of text messages allegedly involving Robert Service High School Principal Allen Wardlaw and others, Wardlaw is now on administrative leave.
The school district sent a team to meet with faculty and staff at the high school on Wednesday, said Communication Director MJ Thim, who added that Assistant Principal Imtiaz Azzam has been named acting principal during the investigation.
The district wanted to reassure the school community it was taking their concerns about Wardlaw seriously.
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In early afternoon Wednesday, the district sent a letter to the Service High School community, including teachers and staff:
Good afternoon Service HS Families and Staff,
I want to make you aware of a leadership change that has occurred today.
The District has begun an investigation into community concerns about Principal Allen Wardlaw. He has been placed on administrative leave and Imtiaz Azzam has been named acting-principal during this time—she brings strong leadership and a student-first perspective to this important role.
We understand you have many questions. As we work through this matter, we will provide updates in a timely manner when we can. Because this is a personnel matter, we can’t comment further at this time.
Ensuring a safe and stable learning environment for students and staff is a top priority for us. We are committed to making sure that continues for you.
If you have any questions and/or concerns, please contact my office directly in order for our staff to stay focused on educating our Service High School students. You can email me ([email protected]) or call 907-742-4256.
The letter was signed by Senior Director of Secondary Education Kersten Johnson-Struempler.
The allegations evolved over several days after a person posted text messages purported to be between Wardlaw and a woman who was not his wife, but who is also employed by the district.
After students started passing around sordid text messages on social media, especially over SnapChat earlier this week, several parents contacted Rep. Jamie Allard, who serves as co-chair of the House Education Committee. They said they were getting no answers from the school district, and they wanted to know what is going on at Service High, because their children were being exposed to some pretty raw material.
On Wednesday afternoon, Must Read Alaska reported about the text messages that were, by Tuesday night, being shared throughout the Anchorage School District. The district responded a few hours later with its answer: The administration has taken the appropriate steps to protect Wardlaw’s personnel rights, while ensuring the safety of students and stabilizing the learning environment.
The text messages, full of demeaning and grotesque sexual remarks, pertain to educators having what are evidently sado-masochistic, bondage-play extramarital sexual relations, using illegal drugs, and texting demeaning messages to each other, including direct sexual accusations.
Rep. Jamie Allard said she had received several emails and texts about the situation.
“Once again, we see how important it is for parents to be made aware of whats taking place in their kids’ school. There is nothing that goes on in schools that the parents shouldn’t be allowed to know,” Allard said.