Hellgate principal demoted

by Ana J. Beard

As Alex Apostle, Superintendent for Missoula County Public Schools put it, Hellgate High School principal Jane Bennett is being “reassigned” to Willard’s principal (which is interesting seeing as there are an awful lot of rumors going around about Apostle wanting to close Willard in the near future).

He made the announcement to the staff Tuesday, June 2 in a meeting he had called earlier that day. He told the staff this, and then asked if  Bennett had anything to say and then booked it out of there. He handled the situation unprofessionally and apparently there hasn’t even been a clear reason as to why she’s being reassigned.

There is much protest to her reassignment though, including a petition and letters to the school board.

Funny enough, Hellgate’s CRT testing scores are up by at least TEN PERCENT from last year (12 in math, 18 in reading, science went up as well). Obviously the school (and Bennett) is doing something right, so why the sudden changes? This is just one of the many improvements Hellgate has made in the recent years as well as attendance rates going up and a revised math curriculum.


  1. This is the first I am hearing of this.

    A 10% jump in math scores is amazing. With scores like that, Bennett should be getting a raise, not a demotion!

  2. Uncle G

    It is not so much funny but wonderful that testing scores at Hellgate High School have shown a significant rise. However, that as well as attendance and especially a revised math curriculum must be associated through the prodigious efforts of Teachers, Counselors, Para educators and even sometimes physical plant Staff rather than through the Principal’s office. I suspect that Ms. Bennett is possibly in some conflict with the downtown educational philosophy.

  3. Ana

    Just a little update, at our senior send-off, when Ms. Bennett came onto the stage the applause, whistling and shouts were overwhelming. It shows that even if we’re graduating on Saturday, we still support our principal.

  4. Nick D

    I had Ms. Bennett as a 7th grader, and have remembered her fondly ever since. I’m sure Hellgate students will suffer as a result of the decision.

    • JC

      Why don’t you think that Hellgate may get another principal that could benefit the students? It is presumptuous to assume that students will suffer. I know of students that have suffered needlessly under decisions rendered by Bennett.

      There may be a whole lot more than meets the eye to the dismissal of Bennett. I know she was well liked by most of those at Hellgate. I found myself liking Bennett personally, (having to spend many hours in conference and consultation with her) though I have professional experience with her (as the parent of a disabled student at Hellgate) that could have warranted her being dismissed.

      • BE

        The problem is not so much that Jane was transferred, but the way it was handled. Apostle has a lot of ideas (which may or may not be good) for the district. He can not accomplish even a fraction of them without the support of MCPS faculty. His aggressive manners, lack of compassion, and unwillingness to listen to dissenting opinions have made many in the district mistrust him as a leader. If he doesn’t adjust his leadership style he will not survive.

        Teachers are a passionate group, who work hard to teach humanity. Apostle undermines this when he acts like a bully and a despot.

        There are people downtown who are drinking his Kool-Aid, but he is in for a serious surprise if thinks that teachers will not think critically.

        Alex needs to spend more time learning the cultures of the various schools and less time making power points. Closing Willard would be an epic disaster, as would doing away with senior projects, which he has also suggested. Someone needs to tell him that Hellgate WILL NEVER look like Sentinel as he wants. But then would he listen?

        Incidentally he just appointed the head of the teachers union, Jack Sturgis, to one of the best jobs in the district (principal of Lewis and Clark). Sturgis was the head of the same union that sold Kathleen Kennedy down the river just a few months ago…fishy much?

  5. Ana

    Exactly. He handled the situation poorly and his refusal to give answers is plain rude. Luckily the senior class of ’09 has more respect and we’ll all be shaking his hand tomorrow despite the anger we feel towards him.

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