Disagree with the school chief? Here comes the law

Floyd County School Boss Kevin Harris
Floyd County School Boss Kevin Harris

Two Floyd County deputy sheriffs showed up at Rob Neukirch’s home in town recently with a letter from School Superintendent Kevin Harris.

The letter warned Neukich to keep his mouth shut or face expulsion and banishment from school properties.

“I will ban you from being on any property owned by the Floyd County School Board or attending any school related event,” Harris said in the letter delivered to Neukirch by officers of the law.  “Should you choose to disregard this warning, I will have you immediately removed form school grounds.”

Rob Neukirch
Rob Neukirch

Neukirch, it seemed, questioned actions of the school administration and did so publicly at a cross country track meet in Hillsville last week.  He admitted to Roanoke Times columnist Dan Casey that he was sarcastic by suggesting Harris might fire a cross country coach is his daughter, who runs cross country, doesn’t win.

“I wasn’t on my best behavior,” Neukirch told Casey.

At the same time, others might wonder if a school superintendent who sends the law to the home of the parent of a school student, who is also a cross country track runner, is crossing the line too.

Neukirch has a history of taking on school leaders and coaches over what he feels are poor decisions involving the teams and his sons who have excelled at basketball and track.  He questioned the actions of boys’ varsity basketball coach Brian Harmon.

But teachers and others who deal with Harris say he also has a hair-trigger temper when anyone dares question his actions.  Neukirch questions the dismissal of former cross country assistant Dawn Weeks, who lost her job last season after Harris’ daughter was left off a track relay team.

Harris has tangled with members of the county board of supervisors over budget issues after he became school superintendent.  He stopped appearing before the board after a dust-up with supervisors in the last budget review process.

The school superintendent, who stands will over six feet, says Neukirch, a former actor who is slight in stature, is “intimidating.”  He says he called in the sheriff’s department to deliver the written warning to Neukirch because the home football game opener was coming up last week and he wanted to make sure the letter was delivered and “didn’t want another situation to develop.”

Harris told Casey:

By all witnesses, it was inappropriate, challenging, threatening. I think it was disruptive. It didn’t stop the meet, but when you have a parent yelling at anyone, it was disruptive. It’s not a venue for any parent to be yelling at any school officials.

Witnesses tell me the discussion between Harris was “spirited” and both sides seemed “intense.”

“He’s a megalomaniac,” Neukirch said of Harris in his interview with Casey.  “He’s a bully.”

“Dr. Harris has a temper,” says one teacher.  “You don’t want to see that temper aimed at you.”

Neukirch is also outspoken and is quick to defend his children and criticize any actions he feels are detrimental to them or the community.  I’ve been on the receiving end of his temper more than once.  He’s passionate.

Casey, who is a friend and wrote more than once about my recovery from a near-fatal motorcycle accident in 2012, says school athletics like cross country can create passion between parents and school officials.

On this latest situation in Floyd County, he suggests “it seems well past the time for all the principals to be in a room, put their cards on the table, and discuss this like adults.”

Good luck.  If such a “Come to Jesus” meeting is called, will the invitations be delivered by deputies?

14 Responses to Disagree with the school chief? Here comes the law

  1. Dr. Harris has quite the reputation for anger outbursts. ..yelling at staff and referees. Use of intimidation (“do you know who I am?”). This is not new. Just a new tactic.

  2. Well o for one can tell you that rob Neukirch will lie to get what he fills his children deserve and lie about anything that supports his agenda. I personally have been in the receiving end of his views and opinion. God bless all involved

  3. Perhaps both guys should grow up. A citizen has a right to speak out and against public officials, but not to be threatening. And no public official has the right to threaten or intimidate members of the public, but can take appropriate action when necessary. Appropriate action is not what occurred in this instance – on either side.

    They are both setting horrendous examples for students and the community alike. Time for the boys to learn to be men and not bullying jerks – and that’s a kind characterization.

  4. So I assume from this that Dr. Harris finally moved to Floyd? Otherwise, his child shouldn’t be in Floyd schools.

  5. Sorry, can’t resist answering your last question: If such a “Come to Jesus” meeting is called, will the invitations be delivered by deputies?

    Perhaps it should be a choir of angels if it’s a “Come to Jesus” meeting. 🙂

  6. I remember when Alonzo Monday was Superintendent of Schools and BP Simpson was Chairman of the School Board in the 1950’s and 60’s They integrated schools, consolidated the small county high schools into FCHS, and struggled to provide the schools with services equal to much larger city schools. During a very volatile time in our country and in our county, they provided solid, respectable leadership. I never heard either raise his voice,
    Dr. Harris and Mr. Neukirch could learn something from the past about leadership. Uncontrolled temper and outbursts in public are disrespectful to the people they represent, to the young people who are molding their own leadership styles. Floyd County deserves better.

  7. Harris “By all witnesses, it was inappropriate, challenging, threatening”. Witnesses? Maybe one. Floyd County deputies would be kept very, very busy if, every time Dr. Harris yelled at a staff member, they were called to deliver a letter to HIM.

  8. “Neukirch questions the dismissal of former cross country assistant Dawn Weeks, who lost her job last season after Harris’ daughter was left off a track relay team.” Is this a fact? Did Ms Weeks lose her position due to this incident or did she resign for personal reasons, curious mind would like to know the truth about this issue..

  9. Everyone seems to be using this situation to attack Dr. Harris on other issues. I typically don’t get involved with “drama” BUT, something just doesn’t feel right about this. I’m a member of a Facebook group and have witnessed personal attacks on many other residents of this town. It just seemed odd to me that a parent would allow their children to take part in a discussion as heated as I saw one get. Mrs. Morris (Robs wife) not only allowed this, she took part in it. It showed me a side of her that I had never seen. It’s unfortunate, because I enjoyed her store but haven’t gone back since. I found her way of parenting repulsive. No parent should subject their children to adult situations. It just wasn’t right how she allowed them to talk down to other citizens of this town and I couldn’t understand why her or either one of her boys had the “you owe me because I’m oppressed” mentality. I found Robs actions were uncalled for!!! There was no reason to approach Dr. Harris in a public setting. But, once again, apparently they felt victimized and were “owed” something. Floyd County isn’t like California and definitely not your personal stage. This is a beautiful tight knit small town and does not need to be changed to suit you or your views. No one owes anybody anything, except maybe an apology to Dr. Harris. Respect is not owed, it’s earned.

  10. Hi Concerned Parent. I’m in my shop all day today if you’d like to discuss the first amendment rights of teenagers in person. Or anything else. Of course I will understand if you prefer to continue to hide behind your anonymity.