Principal resigns amid hate-crime controversy
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 29, 2007

Meghan E. Moravcik

A Washington Elementary School District principal has resigned, amid controversy over how a student was disciplined.

The resignation came on the heels of a suspension of a nine-year-old student at the school who allegedly used the term "brown people" during a conflict with another student. School officials determined the language constituted racial harassment under the school's hate-crimes code.

Abraham Lincoln Traditional School Principal Virginia Voinovich submitted her letter of resignation to Smartschoolsplus, a company that contracts with school districts to bring back retired employees. The resignation is effective Dec. 24.During a tape-recorded parent-teacher conference, Voinovich said, "As we said to (the boy) when he was in here, in your heart you may have that feeling, and that is OK if that is your personal believe," but that he should have kept the comments to himself.

Sherry Neve, the boy's mother, has said that she has not raised her son to be racist and that he never differentiated a person's color until the school made it an issue. The boy denied using the phrase.

A district spokesperson, Carol Donaldson, declined to comment on the resignation, only saying that officials will follow the usual procedure for replacing Voinovich, including working with a school site counsel made up of parents, teachers, classified staff, administration and community members.

In a copy of the resignation letter sent to district officials, Voinovich said she is resigning "for personal reasons."

The Washington Elementary School District serves parts of Glendale. Abraham Lincoln Traditional School is located in Phoenix.