Citing board interference, Bridges Prep headmaster resigns

dburley@islandpacket.comSeptember 6, 2013 

Melesia Walden

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Melesia Walden has resigned as headmaster of Bridges Preparatory School because of disagreements with the charter school's board, she said Friday night.

Walden stepped down Friday just three weeks into the school's first year of classes. The charter school opened August 19 and has 360 kindergarten through sixth grader students.

Walden, who most recently worked in human resources for Florence School District 3, was principal of two elementary schools and has taught kindergarten through fifth grade during a 30-year career.

The board unanimously selected her to lead the school in January.

Walden said her decision stems from what she calls the board overstepping its bounds in the day-to-day operations of the school.

"I have the best students, the best parents and the best faculty," she said. "I just cannot do it with the general disagreement over governance and operations. The board is meant to govern. I'm in charge of operations."

Amy Painton, a Walden supporter who has a second grader at Bridges, said she believes the board drove Walden out.

"When you constantly have people coming in and second guessing the job you were hired for, you can only take so much, " Painton said.

Painton served on the school's board until April. She then worked for Bridges as grant writer. She resigned in May.

Josefina Blanc, the school's communications and grant writing director, initially declined to answer questions unless they were submitted by email late Friday night.

She later emailed a statement.

"Bridges Preparatory School is not one person," the statement said, "but a community of staff, volunteers, students and parents, and we are moving forward with normal business operations."

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