Hocker Grove Middle School will have a new principal next year after current principal Ben Pretz announced he has taken a position as director of teaching and learning in the Basehor-Linwood School District.
Pretz, who had been at Hocker Grove for three years, was named an outstanding principal by the Kansas Association of Middle School Administrators last year. He completed his doctorate in education administration in 2017.
The school’s incoming principal is Christopher Kase, a 15 year veteran of the education field who most recently served as a principal and assistant principal in the Cape Girardeau Public School District. Kase received a bachelor’s degree from Southeast Missouri State, a master’s degree from Missouri Baptist, and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Kansas.
In 2016, the Cape Girardeau School District was sued by a student who said she was injured to the extent of requiring hospitalization after being grabbed and taken to the ground by Kase and another district employee as they were trying to break up a fight. In an interview after the incident, Kase said he had been trying to calm the student down and prevent further fighting.
Shawnee Mission officials say they were aware of the incident and fully vetted it during the hiring process.
“Dr. Kase was fully cooperative in the process we initiated to review this matter more closely,” said district spokesperson Shawna Samuel. “As has been reported, no charges were filed against Dr. Kase in this matter. Our findings in this matter indicate Dr. Kase acted in a manner that is consistent with expectations related to maintaining student safety.”
Samuel said Kase’s deep knowledge of public education makes him a good fit for the position.
“Dr. Kase possesses an exemplary knowledge of instructional practices and has a record of building strong relationships with a diverse and large student population, staff and families,” she said. “Dr. Kase is focused on student achievement, connects with the entire school community and maintains a collaborative form of leadership.”
SM North principal Dave Tappan has also announced the he will be departing Shawnee Mission after three years service here for a position in another district.