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Administrative Law Judge Selected For Principal's Hearing

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By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

The administrative law judge who will preside over the hearing that will decide the fate of suspended Glenwood Principal Kerry Newman has been selected.

Kathy Collins Reilly, an adjunct professor at Drake University Law School and former legal director of the School Administrators of Iowa, has been tabbed to serve as administrative law judge in Newman’s yet-to-be scheduled hearing.

Reilly was selected from a group of five names submitted by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. According to state statute 279.24 concerning contracts with school administrators, five qualified administrative law judges were submitted to both Newman’s counsel and the district with each side then taking a turn eliminating a name until just one remains. That one remaining name was Reilly. She was formally retained as administrative law judge on Feb. 25.

The administrative law judge’s finding is legally binding. Any further appeals by either side would be through the district court. Reilly will set the time and date of the hearing.

Newman seemed pleased with the selection of Reilly, whom she referred to as “well known and well respected.”

 “I’m happy with it (the choice). My lawyer seemed happy with it. She’s a good person,” Newman said. “She’s well respected because of her work with the School Administrators of Iowa.”

According to her biography on the Drake Law School website, Reilly graduated with honors from Drake Law School in 1984 and was soon hired by the Iowa Department of Education to be their legal consultant and administrative law judge. During her tenure at the state, she taught education law at Iowa State University, instructing teachers who sought to become administrators before moving on to teach the same course at Drake. After 10 years in state government, Reilly left to fill a position created for her at School Administrators of Iowa (SAI), a professional association. She retired from SAI in the spring of 2006.

Newman has been on paid administrative leave since a Jan. 18 meeting with Glenwood Superintendent Devin Embray. After conducting an investigation into Newman, Embray presented Glenwood School Board. On Feb. 12, the board voted unanimously to consider terminating Newman’s contract, listing, among their reasons, “inappropriate relationship with a district employee, unprofessional conduct, poor judgment, inappropriate use / misuse of district resources and (being a) poor and ineffective role model.”

Newman has denied these allegations.

On Feb. 19, Newman filed paperwork with the district and the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners to contest her termination. Embray said Newman’s hearing would take place in Glenwood and be open to the public but the date and location have yet to be determined.

Since being placed on paid leave 47 days ago Newman has continued to collect a paycheck. The principal is scheduled to make $101,200 this year. On a 365-day calendar, that breaks down to approximately $277 per day. Her compensation during the leave has now surpassed $13,000.