The newly elected school board for North Lawrence Community Schools opted to buy out the contract of now former superintendent Ty Mungle less than two weeks after taking their posts.
The special meeting, which was also live streamed, drew a packed and overflowing room with people standing both inside the board room and in the hallway.
The board also voted to put assistant superintendent Chris Tanner, who was hired in July, on paid administrative leave starting Jan. 10. Board president Wendy Miller will use the time to pursue canceling Tanner's contract.
Prior to the votes, Logan Felts, North Lawrence Education Association vice president, spoke about board transparency and questioned the timing.
“I’m not sure replacing multiple members of our administration is the right thing to do,” Felts said, adding he didn't necessarily to support Mungle, but felt the change in leadership should take place at the end of the school year.
Mungle's contract was set to expire in 2025. Board member Scott King made the motion to buyout Mungle's contract, which was seconded by board member Adam Parsley. The board voted 5-2 in favor with members Kirsten Collier and Tracy Bailey dissenting.
During the public comment period Debbie Mays addressed Miller directly.
“You are really causing a division in our community and tearing up our school system," Mays said.
Miller responded by saying she ran for school board because her son attended NLCS and he did not have his needs met as a high ability student.
In another public comment, John Storms offered some advice for the board members.
“Don’t make yourself an expert you’re not,” he said, referring to the hiring of teachers and staff. “Decisions made under emotion are almost always wrong. Please look at that in every decision that you’re getting ready to make.”
After the decision was made, several board members justified their votes.
“I don’t want you to confuse my passion and being focused for this community as being emotional. Passion drives you; emotion controls you. I’m passionate about what I’m doing and this decision I make tonight will not be an emotional one,” King said.
Collier shared why she was against the decision.
“I’m a pro process. I’m pro transparency,” Collier said, adding she was on the board four years ago when they were in the same situation.
“There could’ve been alternate ways of doing this,” Collier said. “If this process slowed down a bit, we could’ve saved our corporation a lot of money.”
Lacy Hawkins, the president of NLEA, used the public comment period to also question the timing.
“I have concerns about the plan being proposed tonight for several reasons, mostly because they have a direct impact on teachers. I have expressed that I believe these changes are being made too fast, which is going to create instability and chaos. The board assures me that this decision was not fast, but I think that comes down to interpretation,” Hawkins said.
Parsley defended the timing after the vote. He said the district has lost 21.6% of its students since 2019, impacting funding, thus costing the district money.
“Coupled with considerable trust issues, I do not think there is anything to be gained by kicking this can down the road and delaying any more than we have to. I believe that time is of the essence,” Parsley said.
This article originally appeared on The Times-Mail: Bedford school board ends contract with superintendent Ty Mungle