During a regular meeting Monday night, the Mancos school board accepted the resignation of secondary Principal Adam Priestley.
Priestley told The Journal in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon that he left the school so he could try to “put (his) family back together.” In his resignation letter to the board, he had cited “personal reasons” for his departure.
Priestley sent his resignation letter, which was effective immediately, to Mancos School District RE-6 Superintendent Brian Hanson about 5 p.m. Monday. Priestley did not attend the board meeting.
Priestley’s resignation was added late to the meeting agenda as a consent item, and board members accepted his resignation unanimously.
The Journal received a copy of the resignation letter from the school district Tuesday morning after requesting it from Hanson at the conclusion of Monday’s meeting.
Hanson told The Journal in a phone interview Wednesday that he would fill in for Priestley for the time being, but he plans to meet with secondary school staff after Thanksgiving to determine the best path forward in Priestley’s absence.
Hanson said that the district would likely begin advertising for the principal position in the spring.
Priestley joined the school district in 2009. As a principal, he was known for bolstering teamwork in the high school and championing the school’s push for project-based learning.
Near the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, he visited the High Tech High charter school system in San Diego, a system renowned for its project-based learning approach.
Priestley told board members during a regular meeting in September after his visit that he was looking to bring some of the charter school system’s teaching principles to Mancos.
Priestley served the district from outside his office, as well, filling in as a high school football coach in 2016 and 2017 after Bill Parsons resigned from the position at the end of the 2015 season. Priestley also coached the team in 2013.
In June, he announced to the board that the Denver Athletic Club had awarded the Mancos High School football team a “Step Up” award for its performance in its 2017 homecoming and quarterfinal games. According to Priestley, the Denver Athletic Club was impressed by how the athletes played together and how well the coaching staff performed.
In the past year, Priestley went through a divorce and faced unrelated disciplinary action within the district.
In Oct. 2017, superintendent Hanson gave Priestley and another school staff member a two-day leave of absence after he said the two had been dishonest with him regarding a relationship they’d had during the summer.
At the time, Priestley said he regretted allowing mistakes in his personal life to affect his position as a role model in the school, and said he hoped to make it right in the future.
This fall, according to a Mancos town marshal’s report from Oct. 17, Priestley’s former wife, Hilary Priestley, was involved in a confrontation with Mancos science teacher Kristina Linders over matters related to Priestley. Kristina Linders told the marshal’s office that Hilary Priestley gave her a “dirty look,” punched her in the arm, pushed her to the ground then left.
Tatiana Creese, who according to the marshal’s report “is a friend of (Linders’) and was also a witness,” provided a similar narrative.
Hilary Priestley, when contacted the next day, said Linders walked up to her and “got into her face.” Hilary Priestley says she “bumped (Linders) in the shoulder” as she walked past her and that Linders then fell to the ground.
“Hilary stated she overreacted by bumping into her but she had not physically punched (Linders) or pushed her,” the marshal’s report reads.
When asked why Hilary might assault her, Linders “stated something to the effect of ‘because I’m friends with her ex-husband,’” according to the marshal’s report.
Hilary Priestley reported that the two were arguing because Linders “threatened to get her husband fired from his job.”
“Due to conflicting stories from both parties involved and a lack of physical evidence of injuries, charges have not been filed to either Hilary or (Linders),” the marshal’s report reads.
Dean of Students Heath Showalter requested that a trespass notice be issued to Hilary Priestley, and Linders was advised to consider getting a restraining order.
Hanson said the trespass was issued to Hilary to protect students and staff from further confrontations. He also said that Hilary had not previously created problems for the district and has not since.
Hilary Priestley did not respond to calls from The Journal for comment.
Linders’ husband, Robert Linders, told The Journal Tuesday afternoon that his wife had no comment.