After one year of employment at Gettysburg Area School District (GASD), James Gettys Elementary Principal Lisa Royek is retiring in September.
The GASD Board of School Directors approved Royek’s retirement at Monday’s meeting without comment. Her retirement is effective Sept. 24, according to the school’s meeting agenda.
Royek, of Corry, was hired last June with 25 years of classroom and nine years of administrative experience to bring to GASD.
GASD Superintendent Dr. Jason Perrin said after the meeting Royek is going into consulting work “for mass customized learning.”
“We wish her the best,” Perrin said.
Royek previously said she was attracted to GASD after meeting Assistant Superintendent Dr. Christine Lay at a conference. Lay visited Royek’s school to see the customized learning program she helped implement there, according to Royek.
Royek left her position as an elementary principal at Titusville Area School District to come to GASD, starting July 30, 2018.
Royek worked at Titusville for seven years prior to going to Corry Area School District for 17 years.
In April, GASD parents expressed dismay during a school board meeting, alleging a lack of communication at James Gettys Elementary and the school had “taken such a drastic turn for the worst.”
Parents claimed the nationally recognized elementary school became “a prison” due to alleged lockdowns and an increased police presence.
Just a couple years ago, James Gettys Elementary became a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School for its success in closing the school’s achievement gap in three years, according to school officials. This recognition was received under different leadership.
At that meeting, GASD parent Nicole Pritchard, along with other parents, indicated how the school had an “uninviting atmosphere.”
On Thursday, Pritchard said she was “happy” Royek is not returning next year.
“This principal turned that school upside-down,” Pritchard said.
Perrin said the district plans to hire someone before Royek leaves in mid-September. The hope is to find “someone that is going to enjoy the district and someone that is going to – just as Lisa (Royek) did – contribute to a large administrative team and continue to build a team at the elementary school,” according to Perrin.
Pritchard said she is hoping they find a principal like Donna Harrison, who was there prior to Royek.
“I hope we get a more progressive, understanding, and empathetic principal,” Pritchard said. “I know the demographics are changing.”
At the April meeting, the parents pointed to alleged encounters with Royek.
Pritchard, who said she has a biracial daughter, became emotional when talking about an incident with Royek supposedly making “questionable comments” regarding “a black boy that was in the front office,” she said.
“She asked him to repeat his name three times, and she couldn’t pronounce it. And on the third time when she could not pronounce it, she said ‘you people and your names,’” Pritchard said about Royek.
Perrin said Royek’s leave did not have anything to do with the communication issues with parents.
“She was doing a great job at the end of the year,” Perrin said.