Letters From Traverse City West Principal On Missing Spirit Rock Controversy

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9&10 News obtained e-mails written by Traverse City West High School principal Joe Esper.

Esper and the assistant principal were both suspended after a popular rock at the high school went missing.

The superintendent asked them about it, and when no one had an answer, an investigation began.

The superintendent says the principal and vice principal knowingly misrepresented information about the rock’s disappearance, broke a state law and they are being punished.

9&10 News used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain letters between principal Joe Esper, superintendent Paul Soma and the Board of Education.

In them, principal Esper claims the superintendent’s discipline of him is an overreach; and that it’s based on an informal and interrupted conversation he had with the superintendent about the missing rock.

Esper declined to go on camera, but said his intention is to be completely transparent.

Esper plans to file a grievance.

No matter what the reason was for getting rid of the rock, it even has former students upset.

“It was always nice to see that rock; it had layers upon layers of history on that rock,” said recent graduate Amanda Kabbes. “I felt like it was more of a kick to the face to the students; the rock caused happiness, it was basically the news to our students.”

Others say they know the rock has caused controversy and rivalries between students but they believe the principal was trying to keep his students safe and focused on education.

“I see a lot of different perspectives here that have to be respected; one person’s truth is too often called another person’s lie,” said Pam Kaiser, who has recently had three children at Traverse City West. “We have to give Mr. Esper the chance to explain his actions and I think he’s doing this and we have to listen.”

Esper said he will continue going to work and doing the best for the kids.