Clarinda Middle School

(Clarinda) -- Numerous Clarinda School District policies will be reviewed in a special work session later this month.

Clarinda's School Board, in cooperation with the Iowa Association of School Boards, holds the work session June 23rd at 4 p.m at the Clarinda Middle School commons. School officials set the workshop in reaction to comments aired at previous board meetings regarding the district's operations and administration. During Wednesday afternoon's meeting, Board President Greg Jones urged the district's staff and patrons to attend the work session and other related activities in the district.

"This is meant to educate everyone--that includes us--on the law and the process for complaints," said Jones. "Come and listen. I absolutely want and encourage more engagement with the staff and community. Come to the meetings, workshops, join a committee, join the boosters or run for school board. I think the more involved you get, the better we can be."

Issues regarding public complaints about employees, communication channels and employee complaints, among others, are expected to be discussed during work session. At the board's May 26th meeting, Jones stated he would no longer allow public comments during board meetings to deviate from active board policy, and posted agenda items. Commenting further Wednesday, he says people have the right to say what they want, but must be prepared to "own and support anything they say."

"Our existing policy 213 allows for public comment on the posted agenda items," he said. "It's not intended as a platform for personal attacks on staff and voluntary board members who have a passion and community. I believe every district employee is protected from this kind of environment, including the superintendent. Any personnel matter is also to be held confidential by law. That basically means as a district, we can't comment on those that are coming and going."

Jones says anyone with concerns should first go to the source, and follow district policies regarding public complaints, staff and students.

"In the last four-to-five meetings, I've been in more meetings that not where no one--and I mean no one--from the public and not very many staff have even come to a meeting," said Jones. "And, I find it concerning that out of the blue, we get a mixture of staff and community members that, in one meeting, can have a multitude of concerns and pass judgment around like it's free advice."

No one spoke during Wednesday's public comments period. Clarinda School Superintendent Chris Bergman attended Wednesday's meeting via videoconference while attending this week's Leadership Iowa sessions. Bergman says some of the meeting's presenters touched on need for healing from COVID-19 and other turbulence over the past year-and-a-half.

"We need time together as a school district, a community, a state and a nation to heal," said Bergman, "and remember that we have been through a lot. It was interesting, the last speaker kept talking about the last 16-17 months, and that made me think about that's most of my tenure here, serving in Clarinda, and how different it has been for everyone."

In other business, the board...

---approved the hiring of Jared Bevins as elementary PE teacher, Mary Cox as special education instructor, Matt Darrah as 11th and 12th grade iJAG specialist, and Nicole Berning as 7th and 8th grade iJAG specialist.

---approved the position transfers of Collin Bevins from 11th and 12th grade iJAG specialist to 9th and 10th grade iJAG specialist, Allison Bix from Title I instructor to 1st grade instructor, Mackenzie Clark from Title I instructor to 5th grade instructor, Jaedra Heiny from 6th grade instructor to Title 1 instructor, and Kenzie Beery from 2N.D. grade instructor to Title I instructor.

---approved a memorandum of understanding with Iowa State University regarding student teaching.

---tabled action on changes to the district's master agreement regarding the middle school and high school vocal music and middle school band positions.

---approved a $1,500 stipend for Clarinda's food service director to assist the South Page School District.

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