7 hour meeting continued regarding principal's future at Trumann - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

7 hour meeting continued regarding principal's future at Trumann High

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TRUMANN, AR (KAIT) - A specially called meeting called Tuesday night at the Trumann School District is ongoing.

Tuesday night, school board members met in private for seven hours regarding High School Principal Wanda Van Dyke's position at the school.

Van Dyke was suspended in December pending an investigation into her role as principal.

In February, Superintendent Myra Graham mailed Van Dyke a letter, stating 21 reasons why she was recommending the school board NOT renew her contract.

The letter states, in part, that Van Dyke was an untrustworthy, incompetent principal whose conduct reflected poorly on the school district.

Since that time, Van Dyke has filed suit against both Superintendent Graham and the school district for violating her and her son's rights. 

Why is her son involved? According to legal documents we obtained, this all stems from Van Dyke's son running for and being elected homecoming queen last fall. Her son later declined the position but it's a move Van Dyke claims her son was forced to do by Superintendent Graham.

From there, Van Dyke's complaint claims Superintendent Graham "deliberately and with malice" attempted to hinder her ability to perform her duties as principal.

Van Dyke's complaint states she wants to be reinstated as principal.  She also wants compensatory punitive damages.

The meeting that started Tuesday night was set to discuss Van Dyke's future as high school principal.

The meeting began at 6pm and the public was allowed in the meeting for just 10 minutes before being called into a private hearing.

That wouldn't have been the case however if Van Dyke had been granted a name clearing hearing before discussions into her future as principal began.

Van Dyke's lawyer Luther Sutter let school board members know if they declined a name clearing hearing, they would move the meeting to a private setting.

Sutter claims Van Dyke was stigmatized in the community by the actions of Superintendent Graham and wanted to give Van Dyke the opportunity to clear her name on the front end.

"It's time the people, parents and children of Trumann School District know what the superintendent has done to the principal," Sutter said. 

However, since school board members denied the name clearing hearing, the remainder of the meeting was held behind closed doors.

Sutter also let board members know he strongly objected not allowing the name clearing hearing to take place.

Four witnesses were called in that time. Assistant Superintendent David Rutledge, Assistant Principal Josh Shepherd, Instructional Technologist Josh Byard and Superintendent Graham each gave testimony during that meeting.

But as the meeting was behind closed doors, we don't know what was said and the hearing is still open, neither side could comment on what was discussed.

A continuance for the hearing was passed by the school board for April 16, that's next Wednesday, at 5pm.

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