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Murchison MS principal resigns after two students arrested on murder charges

(Photo: AISD)

The principal at Murchison Middle School in northwest Austin has resigned from his position. This comes after two students were arrested last week on murder charges.

Principal Brad Clark sent out a letter Wednesday where he announced he has "decided to step down” due to "recent challenges."

Given the most recent challenges with which we have been faced as a learning community, I have decided to step down as principal of Murchison Middle School, so that a new leader can bring healing to our campus. Our partnership has been meaningful and successful, but I believe a new direction will be in the best interest of everyone. I have loved serving you all and having the opportunity to work with your amazing children every day. Thank you for all you have done to support me and Murchison Middle School.

From January 25 to January 27 two students from Murchison were charged with murder in the stabbing death of 18-year-old Carson Smith. Smith was a student at Anderson High School.

After a parent meeting Thursday morning, many in the Murchison community said it seemed unclear why the principal was resigning.

"It's a little shocking that he decided to leave," says Jennifer Johnson, mom of a Murchison Middle School seventh grader. Parents say Clark was known for his transparency and good communication.

"He has a very strong personality---a big presence in the community, so for him to just suddenly leave is very surprising," adds Johnson.

"I thought he was a well put together guy. I didn’t think that there was anything wrong with him. I liked him," says Murchison parent Rob Story.

Since October several letters to parents mark various campus incidents. Those incidents range from students snorting candy at lunch to a child being seriously injured after a second-floor fall to a student bringing an air-soft gun to campus. Parents say they didn't hold any of that against the principal. They do believe Clark is specifically referencing the January stabbing when he talks about a need for campus healing in his resignation letter.

"I really didn’t understand why he resigned. It didn’t seem to have anything to do with him," says Story.

Beth Newton, principal of Hill Elementary has been named the interim principal at Murchison Middle School for the remainder of the school year. The campus will hold a principal's coffee event on Monday, February 11th at 4:15 p.m. in the cafeteria to allow parents and community members to meet with her.

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