An elementary school principal who sent a controversial tweet to a young school shooting survivor who is now a gun control activist is no longer employed at Platte County R-3 and is being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per terms of a separation agreement.
The school district announced Friday evening that it has reached a separation agreement with Dr. Chad Searcey, principal at Compass Elementary School in Platte City. Searcey had been on paid administrative leave since being suspended after sending the tweet in June.
Under the terms of the separation agreement, the district is compensating Searcey in the amount of $275,000. That does not include salary the district has continued to pay Searcey from the time of his suspension until the separation agreement was reached.
This week, The Landmark put in a request for public records via the Missouri Sunshine Law seeking a copy of the separation agreement reached between Searcey and the school district. The district had not yet responded to the Sunshine request as of Landmark deadline Wednesday morning.
Searcey had been with the district for nearly 15 years, having started with R-3 in July of 2004. Prior to becoming principal of Compass Elementary, he had served as principal at Paxton School, and before that he was the assistant principal at Platte City Middle School.
District policy on technology administration
In the Platte County R-3 employee handbook under a section entitled “technology administration,” the handbook reads:
“The board directs the superintendent or designee to create rules and procedures governing technology usage in the district to support the district’s policy, as needed. Employees should note that all social media communication sites (even personal) can fall under the staff conduct board policy and can be included in your evaluation or used as grounds for disciplinary action.”
The district statement issued Friday evening said in part that “the agreement reached by the parties includes provisions under which the parties agree not to discuss the negotiations leading up to the agreement. For that reason, neither the board of education nor Dr. Searcey will make any further statements about the agreement.”
Searcey sent the tweet from his personal Twitter account on Tuesday, June 11, setting off a social media firestorm and drawing a response from David Hogg. By Wednesday, June 12 afternoon, Searcey had deleted his Twitter account and had been placed on paid leave by the school district.
Hogg, a Florida school shooting survivor who is now a gun control activist, had posted a video encouraging Congress to fund research on gun violence. “Gun violence is the second leading cause of death for the young people in the United States, yet basically gets no reserach funding from the federal government at all whatsoever,” said Hogg in the video. “We have a chance to fund it currently in this Congress with this Senate and give $50 million to the CDE and NIH.”
Searcey replied to the tweet with a picture of himself and his sons shooting and holding guns, with a hashtag caption that read “#Merica.”
Searcey later deleted the tweet and also posted an apology to Hogg’s post, but by that time Hogg had already retweeted the picture with the following message:
“Cool guns, you know what else is cool? Moms and dads getting to see their kids graduate high school alive. Kids not having to step over bloodstained sidewalks on their way to school. Parents not coming home to find their child with a self inflicted gun shot wound.”
The school district said it learned of Searcey’s tweet on Wednesday, June 12 and immediately placed him on paid administrative leave. The district then distributed a notice saying:
“On June 11, 2019, a school district employee posted a tweet in response to a comment encouraging Congress to fund research on gun violence. The post was made from the employee’s personal Twitter account. Posts from employee personal social media accounts do not reflect the views or opinions of the Platte County R-3 School District.”
The statement from the school district continued: “The district learned of the tweet on June 12, 2019, and immediately placed the employee on paid administrative leave while we investigate the situation. We understand why the public response has been strong with regard to student safety in our nation’s schools. We intend to address the situation immediately and in a manner consistent with our board of education policies, as well as our goal of ensuring a safe and caring environment for our students, staff and community.”