Asst. principal threatens parent over school response

Asst. principal threatens parent over school response

Mike Biddle says the assistant principal owes him an apology. Mike Biddle says the assistant principal owes him an apology.

May 25, 2005

By STEVE GEHLBACH
6 News Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) -- An assistant principal at Heritage High threatened a parent on the phone with being sued over the school's response on May 20th when a funnel cloud was spotted.

The parent, Mike Biddle, complained because four schools in the area went into lockdown. But some students at Heritage were kept on the second floor.

Biddle was watching 6 News when he became concerned about the funnel cloud. He immediately sent a strongly worded email to all the vice principals at Heritage, saying whoever said the kids on the second floor were just as safe as those on the first was ignorant.

Early the next Monday morning, instead of hearing back about the school's tornado policy, Biddle got a phone call. The man on the line identified himself as Heritage Assistant Principal Ron Wilson.

Wilson told Biddle he had nothing to do with the decision when a funnel cloud was spotted nearby.

Wilson: "Don't you ever call me ignorant. If you want to call me ignorant on an email..."
Biddle: "Was that you?"
Wilson: "Would you like to call me that to my face?
Biddle: "There's nothing wrong with saying ignorant. That means..."
Wilson: "Yes, there is. I personally take that as...I take that bad."
Wilson: "I will meet my lawyer and if you call me ignorant in my face, I'm fixing to sue you till you can't stand up."
Biddle: "Why?"
The call ends after Wilson realizes the email wasn't directly referring to him.
Biddle: "It doesn't say that you are. It says the person."
Wilson: "Okay, thank you very much. That's all I wanted to know. That's all I wanted to hear from you."

The call lasted three and a half minutes. You can click here to listen to it online.

Biddle told Wilson the call was being recorded. "I really wanted a chance to kind of elaborate on my email and explain it," Biddle says, "but he was so upset that he wouldn't let me speak."

Biddle says he was shocked by the confrontational tone. "I felt like he was trying to provoke a fight almost. It was completely outrageous. There was no excuse for the behavior. It was unprofessional."

Biddle wants some kind of punishment for Wilson's actions but he hasn't got a response from the superintendent's office.

He says he wants to prevent future confrontations with other parents or students Wilson works with every day. "And he does owe me an apology because he was out of line."

6 News has tried repeatedly for the last three days to reach Blount County's director of schools, the district spokesperson, Heritage's acting principal and Ron Wilson. The calls either went unanswered or were told "No comment."

Blount County's emergency management director met with school officials Wednesday morning to review safety procedures for tornadoes. They found that at Heritage, there's not enough room for all students to take shelter safely on the first floor so using the second floor interior was the right decision.

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