First, the good news: Neil will return tomorrow morning!

Several minutes into the Drama Club meeting this afternoon, Neil appeared. The crowd erupted in cheers, and many rushed to greet him. Yeah, this sounds like a man who is mean to students (referring to a comment on my initial post).

The principal then made a very long speech, which had points that could be considered valid. There is a lot of gray area, some of which was not cleared up by her speech and some of which she obviously did not want to expand on.

I recorded the entire thing and would love to share it with you, but after converting the 30-minute m4a file to an MP3 and then trying for literally hours to figure out how to share it, I gave up completely defeated. 😦

In a nutshell, the principal glossed over details and brushed it all off to a difference in interpretation of the wording used on the inspector’s report. The report said that the use of the lift was approved but that no one could be on the “area”. So she called the district back in to look the set over again, there were misunderstandings, Neil was told to leave while they checked things out, he left the entire building. He actually had gone to the hospital for X-Rays after falling, where he found out he has a cracked rib.

Lines of communication grew increasingly fuzzy at this point, and assumptions were made erroneously. The principal alleges they could not reach Neil. Neil sent multiple texts, whichΒ they say they didn’t receive but were confirmed “seen” on Neil’s end (iPhone thing).Β Ultimately, because of the lack of communication, they told him not to come back and that he was on administrative leave because “they were slowing the process down” (principal’s words – I have no idea what that means). There was a lot of back-pedaling and double talk in her speech – much like someone trying to cover something up. She ended with saying she was very happy he’s back.

Then Neil took the mic and (after a couple more interruptions by the principal) apologized and explained that his silence was only to make sure his return would happen as quickly as possible. He didn’t want to give them any reason to prolong it. He did say that the overwhelming support from students and parents was the reason he was back.

Later,Β this detailed list of all of the events that led up to Neil being placed on administrative leave was found on Facebook. It includes several details that were not mentioned by the principal.

Details on the events surrounding EHS Theatre’s production of Alice In Wonderland, Oct. 9-11, 2014

A lot of rumors and misinformation have been going around about what’s been happening in the EHS Theatre Department, and as to be expected, people have been asking questions about Neil Truglio (the theatre director) and what exactly has been going on. I was present for a number of situations involving Cherry Creek School District members and administration for EHS before, during, and after the performances this past weekend, as well as the meeting held by parents of the theatre students after the closing performance. In order to get everyone on the same page, and to allow people from other areas and schools to understand, I have typed up a list of facts from the past weekend of what I know:

-Days before opening night for EHS Theatre’s production of Alice In Wonderland, a CCSD member and the building manager arrived with the intent to inspect the stage and set.

-The set was NOT checked by the CCSD rep, nor by the building manager (we’ll just short-form this to… BM). Instead, the two put their attention toward the hydraulic lift that had been installed in the pit.
-Notes on the hydraulic lift: the lift was able to be lowered and raised smoothly, and fit flush with the surface of the stage when fully risen. Once the lift was raised to its maximum, braces were put in place within the lift, transforming it into a stable and acceptable platform.
-After the CCSD rep and BM took a look at the lift, they informed Neil Truglio and Steve Sisk (Head of Technical Support) that students could NOT ride UP or DOWN on the hydraulic lift, but that props were ALLOWED to do so.
-At that point, the CCSD rep and BM approved the lift, and also approved the set (without thorough inspection). It is to be noted that the hillside set piece had railings built into it at this point.
-Later on in rehearsal for the show, the railings were removed so that the hillside could be painted. The railings were also not up to a standard that Neil approved of, so they were removed so as to be reinforced. EHS Theatre had every intent of putting the railings back on for the show.
-Thursday, October 9, 2014, the day show for the elementary school students as well as the night show for the public were executed without problems. The railings that district deemed necessary had yet to be replaced, but were still going to be.
-It is to be noted that productions transform between rehearsals, and also transform and change between show nights. At this point, various elements such as projections and prop placement were still being tweaked and adjusted. It was NOT unusual for the railings to be in the process of being adjusted as well. -Sometime Thursday, whether between shows or after the night performance, the BM sent photos of the set to the prinicipal of EHS, Gwen Hansen-Vigil (we’ll just call her Gwen).
-Gwen arrivedΒ and decided that district needed to be involved.

-Friday morning at 7AM, Neil was greeted in the theatre auditorium by a plethora of district staff, as well as Gwen and Kelly Snell (the EHS Activities Director). District members were inspecting the set and hydraulic lift.
-District members were upset that the lift had still been in use, claiming that they had told Neil and Steve that students could not ride up or down OR stand on or near the lift, even after it had been braced and was then considered a platform.
-Neil and Gwen had a conversation where Gwen told Neil that she was bringing in a district-approved engineer to inspect the lift. Neil then told Gwen not to bring in the engineer, and that the lift would instead just be cut from the show. Gwen insisted on the engineer, who upon arrival decided that the lift needed to be cut.
-During inspection, district members made it known that the railings would need to be added on, as well as new railings for the 3-4 ft. spindle set-piece. Those changes were made to the set that afternoon.

-At one point, a district member said that something would “have to be done” about a 4-inch “drop” where the ramp of the set met the floor. -Gwen also pulled Neil aside at one point, and suggested he resign from his position as EHS Theatre Director.
-District members informed Neil, Chantelle Frazier (volunteering costume designer), Steve, Parker Jenkins (Technical Director), and I that we needed to leave the auditorium, and that the district members would make changes to the set while we were away. Neil told Kelly Snell that he was going to go home and work on changing the show while the district worked on the set.
-The students were told to go to class for the day, even while unprepared, and that they would meet in the theatre auditorium at 3PM to go over the set changes.
-During the day, Neil reached out to EHS administration, but his calls were not answered or returned.
-At around 1230PM, Parker received a call from Kelly who asked that Parker meet with her at 2PM in the EHS library.
-Soon after this conversation, Neil received a call from district Human Relations Department, who informed Neil that he was on “Administrative Leave” and that he could not be on district property, nor contact students, parents, or staff of EHS until further notice. He was not given reason OR official paperwork considering the matter.
-Chantelle was informed of the situation through Neil, seeing as she is a volunteer at EHS, and is not considered staff, student, or parent. Chantelle then proceeded to contact Parker and inform him of the situation.
-Parker arrived in the school library and met with the Harlequin Players (the auditioned theatre performance class), as well as Gwen and Kelly.
-Gwen told the students that Neil was “missing,” and that “they had tried to contact him, but he was not responding to their calls.”
-It is to be noted that later in the evening, Gwen told parents that Neil “would not be able to attend the shows,” and then she began saying that Neil was “unavailable for the weekend,” and shortly after that, Gwen began telling students that she “had not heard from Neil,” and that she “didn’t know anything about his whereabouts or situation.”
-After receiving false information from Gwen, the Harlequin students began brainstorming and planning how they were going to move forward with the changes that the district had made to the show. The students were very somber and most looked as if they had been crying.
-Gwen and Kelly thanked Parker for coming, and then proceeded to leave.
-Parker proceeded to inform the students of Neil’s true reason for absence. The students were very upset, and many stated that they thought his leave was their fault, and they thought that they had done something wrong that caused him to want to abandon the show.
-The Harlequin Players changed the show as necessary, and met with the rest of the cast at 3PM in the theatre auditorium. Gwen and Kelly were also present at this meeting, and Taylor Cozort (Drama Club President and member of Harlequin) informed Gwen that it would be best if she did not speak at the meeting, and would leave the explanation to the Harlequin Players to pass along.
-Harlequin went over the changes to the show, and the cast and crew began rehearsing the new set changes.
-The cast and crew had 3 hours to alter, rehearse, and get in costume and makeup for the Friday night performance.
-It is to be noted that in the time between the Friday and Saturday performances, Gwen admitted to giving out false information, and said that she did so because she was “put on the spot” and “didn’t know what to say.”
-The show was performed with the new changes, and was done so for the Saturday matinee and Saturday closing night.
-The students, however capable due to Neil’s teaching and preparation, were distraught over the absence of their director and mentor. There was an obvious change in the demeanor of the cast and crew.
-At the end of curtain call for the closing performance, the cast and crew stood aside, leaving a center area empty on stage. They then brought out a director’s chair and placed it center stage, illuminated only by spotlight. A single rose was placed on the seat of the chair, in honor of the director that had worked so hard for a cast/crew/show that he was not permitted to physically support.
-On Saturday evening, parents of EHS students helped with strike (to whom we give 1,000 thanks for their endless help and support).

-Post-strike, parents of the theatre students, as well as Chantelle, Parker, and myself, attended a meeting held in the home of Tim & Alicia Horn to discuss details of the weekend’s events.
-It was apparent during the meeting that most– if not all– students and parents had been blindsided at one point or another by the purposeful misinformation from Gwen Hansen-Vigil.

-Neil Truglio has yet to receive reason as to why he is on Administrative Leave, and has no time estimate on when he would return– if the district would allow it.
The most we can do is spread the word. Tell anyone and everyone. What happened this past weekend was unjust, and many details of conversation between EHS Administration and District Reps suggest that their actions crossed the line of what was necessary, and became personal against Neil Truglio.
Spread the facts– spread the truth. No matter what lies are woven in the coming days, the truth will always come out; no one can hide from it, no matter their position of power.


UPDATE: a meeting between Neil and HR occurred this afternoon, and NEIL IS BACK. He will return to the EHS campus tomorrow morning as usual. Gwen Hansen-Vigil takes full credit for his return.

Director Chair“Never stop. Never settle. Never quit. Never be satisfied. Good enough is never good enough.”

Photo from Facebook. I don’t know who took it. Feel free to leave a comment if it’s your shot so I can give a proper shout out. πŸ™‚

Written by Sheila K

I don't believe humans truly have a purpose. Our goal is to survive until we expire. Period. Joy is pleasurable and worrying is not. Balance in life is crucial; but if the scales must tip, may they tip on the side of joy. I’m just another human trying to survive. I blog because I can and because I enjoy it, not because it serves any purpose.

11 comments

  1. Young, brilliant, educated minds that come to a peaceful and intelligent solution. This is what the performing arts brings to education. Thanks for putting this together! ☺

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    1. You’re welcome! My oldest daughter is pursuing a degree in theater education largely due to the impact Neil has had on her life. I’m very proud of the way these kids handled themselves. πŸ™‚

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  2. Your suspicion of the principal is a bit presuming. I know her personally, and she is a wonderful woman who will stop at nothing to do the best thing for her students. She is in a difficult position as the principal and has to try to please not only her superiors in the district, but also the teachers beneath her while looking out for her students. Please do not assume that because she was “backpedaling” she was trying to hide something – for all you know, she was making sure she was saying the truth as wholly as she could without discussing confidential information that is between only her and the theater teacher.

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    1. Of course I understand her position, and I don’t doubt that she was putting safety first. There must have been a lot she couldn’t say because she repeated herself several times (perhaps back pedalling was the wrong term). Again, I have the entire speech recorded. Clearly, the entire situation escalated rapidly due to miscommunication along the way, and a resolution was required fast. Things definitely need to change – better timelines and more structure for starters. Clear and concise inspection reports going forward are a must, too.

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    2. Hmm…like the time she “backpedalled” during her first pep assembly at EHS. She KNEW the mascot was a Raptor, a bird of prey. Instead, she brings out a velociraptor puppet. A DINOSAUR! She was booed off stage and people up and walked out on her. Last time I was there, it was still in her office as a shameful reminder of how backpedalling will be what she is known for.

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  3. This post is ridiculous and all of you are out of hand and out of line. There is so much more to the story then you could know and you’re stirring up drama from something you don’t even understand. It’s embarrassing that as adults you’re letting your kids act like this and encouraging it. And the last person who posted doesn’t even know which principal did that. It’s wasn’t Gwen, that was the previous principal Jeanie Piper.

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    1. First of all, it’s in the past. Neil is back. Gwen was clearly flustered. While there are certainly issues at a deeper level that I’m not sure will ever be fully resolved, this particular situation is over. It embarrassed you that we LET our kids express themselves under the U.S. Bill of Rights? They even reviewed the district’s Student Discipline & Conduct Handbook to be sure they didn’t break any rules. To shelter our children (teenagers at that) from such rights would be embarrassing. At least they didn’t disrupt school in any way (I heard this from a Dean directly) or walk out of school entirely. They were very respectful. On what planet would that be embarrassing?

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