Dec 21, 2009

My letter to the Davis School Board Member

I am writing you this letter on behalf of my great friend and mentor, Principal Paul Smith of Layton High School. I arrived home for the Christmas holiday a few days ago and heard the unbelievable news that he had been removed from his position as principal of Layton High. I have since learned that no reason has even been given for his removal and worse yet, a district spokesman even implied that Principal Smith was not competent for this job.
As a student alumnus of Layton High School, I feel that I am living proof of Principal Smith’s excellence. I recently completed my Master’s Degree in Materials Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara and I am currently a third year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Applied Physics at Harvard University. All around me at this prestigious university I see students who hail from private schools, “old money”, other countries and very privileged backgrounds. When I tell them that I grew up very poor and graduated from a public high school and the University of Utah I can literally feel the contempt towards me. But my being at Harvard is no mistake or act of charity. The academic, social and leadership preparation I received at Layton High School are second to none. As a student at LHS I was given all the tools and advantages that I could have wanted. Over the three years I was able to take seven AP courses, become Foreign Language Sterling Scholar (2001), #3 in KSL’s Top Ten List (2001), and receive generous scholarships to the University of Utah and Westminster College. The advanced placement courses alone saved me a year of college tuition. Under Principal Smith’s tenure I was also involved in school plays, teams, clubs and many other events. Compared to the more exciting football and basketball teams I was surprised to find that principal Smith even attended our very small school play, encouraged our science club and took time to get to know all the students and not just the athletes and student body officers.
Perhaps the most important thing that Principal Smith did was to hire, encourage and develop the excellent teachers at Layton High School, many of whom are reeling at the loss of their leader of 30 years. Over such a lengthy career mistakes will certainly be made. However, I cannot imagine Principal Smith committing such an error as to warrant his removal. It seems especially galling that Davis School District administrators who obliviously missed the embezzlement of millions in school funds regarding the purchasing of textbooks without stepping down could have the nerve to remove such an amazing man as Principal Smith. In fact, one would assume there were other motives for removing Principal Smith.
As a member of the Davis County School Board you are an elected official and can act on my behalf to prevent this awful injustice. In this capacity I would plead with you to do the following:
• Restore Principal Smith to his position as Principal of Layton High School or provide a suitable reason and explanation for his removal.
• Allow former students, teachers and administrators of Layton High School to speak on his behalf before the Davis County School Board.

Thank you for your time and consideration
Taylor Sparks

If you went to LHS and feel the same as I do please write to the following school board members:

Mrs. Marian Storey
1370 N Hwy 89
Kaysville, Utah 84037

Mrs. Tamara Lowe
2466 W 650 N
West Point, Utah 84015

Ms. Barbara Smith
965 S 350 W
Bountiful, Utah 84010

Mr. James Clark
318 S 750 E
Bountiful, Utah 84010

Mr. Walt Bain
536 Woodland Dr
Farmington, Utah 84025

Mrs. Kathie Dalton
272 W Golden Ave
Layton, Utah 84041

Mr. L. Burk Larsen
1932 West 2025 South
Syracuse, Utah 84075


  1. Taylor,

    I have read you wonderful letter, and I am very grateful for it. I am extremely proud of your accomplishments, and thankful that Layton High brought us together. Thank you again for this powerful letter. I cannot imagine a rational reader who would not be moved to action by it. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    We have not yet begun to fight.

  2. I could disagree more. I have been a teacher in Davis School District for twelve years. I have taught at LHS. Paul Smith had the reputation of being one of the worst principals in the district. He was supposed to be in charge but it is obvious there was a lot of things going on right under his nose that were unethical if not illegal.