Whittier principal out next week as probe into ‘concerns’ continues

The principal of Whittier Elementary School in Fircrest will be out through next week as Tacoma Public Schools continues looking into “concerns” brought about her.

District spokesman Dan Voelpel told families in an update Thursday night that substitute principal Terry Burns will continue to oversee school operations and staff at Whittier.

“I want to assure you that the concerns have nothing to do with student health and safety,” Voelpel said, but did not elaborate as to the basis of the concerns.

The district first reached out to families on Wednesday, saying Debra Audet would not be at school on Thursday and Friday.

Audet started as the new principal of Whittier in July. She was previously principal at Brigadoon Elementary School in Federal Way.

Federal Way Public Schools spokesperson Kassie Swenson told The News Tribune in an email Friday morning that Audet resigned from the district in June 2019 to take an outside position.

Prior to being a principal at Federal Way Public Schools, she held other positions as an assistant principal, a dean of students and instructional coach.

“Due to privacy laws, we have no additional information to share at this time,” Swenson said in an email.

When asked about Audet, co-presidents of the Whittier Elementary PTA directed questions to the district.

Related stories from Tacoma News Tribune