Principal denies making Prince William County middle school a 'toxic' environment

Alfie L. Turner (ABC7)

A Prince William County middle school principal publicly defended herself Wednesday night at a meeting where many of her critics were in the audience.

Alfie Turner, the principal of Ronald Reagan Middle School in Haymarket, is under fire for allegedly creating a toxic environment and mistreating teachers at the school.

Last week, Prince William County Public Schools announced it had hired an outside human resources expert to investigate the environment at Reagan Middle as well as Turner’s leadership.

While the investigation is underway the school system says Turner will remain principal but will work off the school’s property.

Turner spoke about the issue publicly for the first time at a county school board meeting Wednesday night.

“This is a rigorous attempt to publicly defame, humiliate, bully, and harass me,” Turner read from a statement, adding that there is a vicious social media campaign that has been waged against her. “For the students to be subjected to this insidious process is shameful in all regards.”

Her husband Eric Turner also spoke, indicating his wife has been criticized at times for doing her job.

“She must take into consideration policy, laws, and standards and enforce them,” Eric Turner said.

Parents and teachers with concerns about Turner wore blue T-shirts to the school board meeting.

Some accuse Turner of belittling and retaliating against teachers she doesn’t like, and they say she uses some teachers to spy on others.

“I know what these Reagan Middle School teachers are going through,” said Susan Etheridge, who says she used to work under Turner when Turner was principal of Potomac Middle School. “We were in such a toxic environment, and we were afraid to speak out. We were afraid of losing our jobs. We were afraid of retaliation.”

Some parents say they are concerned that many Ronald Reagan Middle teachers are planning to leave after this school year.

“To find out that teachers are literally pulling into the parking lot every morning, and having to force themselves to get out of the car and go inside, that just doesn’t seem acceptable to me,” said Reagan Middle parent Brandie Provenzano.

In letters sent to school staff and parents, Prince William County Public Schools indicated decisions about the future will be made once the outside expert is done investigating.

“Please know that we are determined to address all concerns fairly and effectively,” said a letter sent to parents.

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