Resignations of several staff members have roiled the Winfield-Mt. Union School District in southeast Iowa, prompting a student walkout last week.
Last Monday morning, sixth- through 12th-graders at the school in Winfield filed out of their classrooms in support of the teachers who are being forced out.
Juli Thomson, a parent who attended the walkout, said students gathered “peacefully” outside for 10 minutes before returning to class.
“I know not everyone is supportive of this protest, but I feel the majority was,” Thomson said.
It was Thomson who helped get the ball rolling on the protest. Her April 12 Facebook about one teacher who was asked to resign sparked more than 200 comments in support of the staff at Winfield-Mt. Union.
Multiple sources have confirmed that Kathy Mullin, a language arts teacher, was asked to resign allegedly because of taking too many sick days. According to school records, Mullin took 30.25 days off between sick time, family sick time and personal days this school year.
Winfield-Mt. Union teachers generally are allotted 15 sick days and two personal days per year. Those hired before Jan. 1, 2017, can accumulate up to 120 days of sick leave. After that, the maximum number of accumulated days is 90.
Mullin could not be reached for comment.
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Thomson wrote on Facebook that she is “outraged” that Mullin was asked to resign. Mullin taught Thomson 20 years ago and now teaches Thomson’s 13-year-old daughter.
“To get rid of a stinking patriarch of our school and community makes me think someone else’s resignation needs to be asked for,” Thomson said in her Facebook post.
The Winfield-Mt. Union School Board approved of one “staff reduction,” one staff member resignation and another staff member to be put on paid administrative leave for the remainder of the school year and resign at the end of the year, superintendent Jeff Maeder said. According to sources within the school district, an additional two staff members also have been asked to resign.
“It is a personnel matter. I can’t get into the details,” Maeder said. “Students are upset with some personnel decisions that we have made. Some parents are upset as well. It’s obvious some of these people are very well thought of in our community and among our students. These decisions aren’t easy. They are, however, decisions made in the best interest of the students, and that’s not always popular.”
Maeder said students who walked out Monday will not be reprimanded.
“They deserve to be heard,” he said.
Maeder said that one of the positions is being eliminated because of “budget adjustments.”
“It does have to do with enrollment, like all school budgets do,” he said.
Enrollment at Winfiled-Mt. Union this school year is 321 students. Last school year, it had 339 students. A decade ago, in 2008-09, it had 388 students.