The principal of Liberty Middle School, where a student was seriously injured last month in a bullying incident, has resigned his position and will take a personal leave of absence for the remainder of the school year.
The Liberty Board of Education on Monday granted Dan Weakley’s request for leave and accepted his resignation.
A 12-year-old sixth-grader, Blake Kitchen, was knocked unconscious in the Feb. 19 attack and left bleeding on the floor of the school cafeteria. A 14-year-old eighth-grader at the school last week admitted assaulting the boy and was placed in the custody of the Missouri Division of Youth Services.
“Many of you have likely read about a serious student incident that occurred at our school a few weeks ago,” Weakley wrote in a letter to parents and guardians. “As part of that story, much focus has been on me as the building leader. In order to allow the school less distraction and continued focus on student learning, I have asked the Board of Education to take a leave of absence for personal reasons.”
The school district issued a statement thanking Weakley for his eight years of service to the district.
“We also echo his wish for the school community to support its students and staff with continued high levels of teaching and learning within the building for the remainder of this school year and beyond,” the statement said.
The bullying that sent Blake to the hospital allegedly began with the eighth-grader harassing Blake’s 14-year-old brother, Preston. The boy’s family complained to the school, even sending a certified letter to Weakley asking him to intervene. Destiny Kitchen, the mother of Preston and Blake, said the principal twice talked to the eighth-grader.
But on Feb. 19, as Blake was sitting down to eat breakfast in the cafeteria, the much larger eighth-grader approached. Kitchen said the older boy smashed her son’s head into the table, punched him and slammed him to the floor. Blake’s jaw was broken and his skull was fractured. He spent five days in the hospital.
The eighth-grader and his family apologized for the attack through the family’s attorney.