It’s Official: Barker is Out.
April 27, 2018
The controversial tenure of the New Plymouth School District’s Superintendent has come to an end as the Board voted to accept the resignation of Kevin Barker.
“I make a motion to move that the board accept the resignation of Kevin Barker from his appointment as superintendent and release him from his current contract and further move that the board accept the terms of the proposed arrangement relating to the release of Mr. Barker from the employment from the district,” board chairman Dave Brogan read aloud reported Christina Lords from the Idaho Statesman.
It has been a turbulent year in the New Plymouth School district, with two votes of no-confidence from teachers and district employees, and then a letter from the community asking for Barker’s resignation.
While concerns began surfacing early in the school year, with the chief complaint being a culture of intimidation and fear by employees, things boiled over with the unexpected resignation of former high school principal Clete Edmunson. Edmunson later rescinded his resignation, citing he felt pressured by Barker. According to Lords’s article, Edmuson submitted a final resignation amidst an unresolved investigation. He has since taken a Superintendent/Principal position with the Council School District.
In January, a grassroots effort began with the Community Cares group to get Barker out. An offer to buy out Barker’s contract was made by an anonymous businessman previously, but Barker refused at the time. The Community Cares group began organizing to move forward with a total school board recall, which has deeply divided the community.
This week, the community of New Plymouth became aware of a special meeting called by the School Board to discuss Idaho Code 74-206, which states, “To consider the evaluation, dismissal or disciplining of, or to hear complaints brought against a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent, or public school student. It wasn’t until the end of the meeting when the community was allowed into the district office when the above quote cleared the mystery as to why the meeting was called.”
Upon Kevin Barker’s resignation, the Community Cares group agreed that the recall of the entire school board will be put to rest. Pierrette Madrid-Harris, a teacher at New Plymouth High School and the spokeswoman for the New Plymouth Education Association stated to the Idaho Statesman, “The concern of NPEA has always been with Superintendent Barker and while we have strongly questioned some of the School Board’s decisions regarding accountability, oversight, and transparency, we have never called into question the character of the current School Board members.”
Mrs. Madrid Harris also stated, in reference to the future, “It is now time that we all come together, educators, school board members, parents, and community stakeholders, to mend relationships and restore our school district to the excellent quality that we have come to expect here in New Plymouth,” she stated in an email. “We still have a long way to go, but we are encouraged by the events of this evening and we look forward to working with the School Board to identify a strong leader for our district.”
There were no other details given, such as what the settlement consisted of or if the resignation was immediate, after Barker’s resignation was accepted by the board in an unanimous vote. New Plymouth High School will finish out its year without a building or district administrator. It is unclear at this point how the district will proceed, but so far, it has been business as usual in the high school-but then again, it has been business as usual for the last four months while we have coped without a principal.