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Former Principal 'Relieved, Ready To Move On'

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Kerry Newman Resigns, Receives $40,000 Settlement

By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

Kerry Newman has resigned as Glenwood Community High School Principal.

Newman, who had been on paid administrative leave since Jan. 18, when superintendent Devin Embray initiated an investigation into her conduct as GCHS principal, handed in her resignation Monday. Following a closed-door session Monday evening, the Glenwood Board of Education voted 3-1 to accept Newman’s immediate resignation, to withdraw it’s motion to terminate her principal’s contract and to accept settlement terms agreed upon by both Newman’s and the district’s legal counsel.

As part of the settlement terms, Newman will receive a $40,000 lump sum payment from the district  and be allowed access to her office to obtain copies of her work, including curriculum she developed as principal. The $40,000 is about what Newman would have been paid for serving as principal for the remainder of her contract for the 2012-13 school year.

Both sides also agreed to not make “disparaging or negative remarks about the other party.”

The resignation closes the door on nearly two months of rumors and speculation on Newman’s job status and what exactly prompted her suspension from the position she has held since 2007.

“I am relieved,” Newman said when reached Monday night. “I am ready to move on. My family can take a deep breath. I wrote close to 50 thank you notes to people today who have just been wonderful. It means a lot to me. Relieved is a good word. It’s definitely what my family felt tonight.”

The school board voted unanimously to terminate Newman’s contract Feb. 12. The board listed, among their reasons for terminating Newman, “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 the allegations. Embray has declined to discuss the details of his investigation or what prompted it.

On Feb. 19, Newman filed paperwork with the district and the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners to contest her termination. Kathy Collins Reilly, an adjunct professor at Drake University Law School and former legal director of the School Administrators of Iowa, had been tabbed to serve as administrative law judge in Newman’s hearing.

Following Monday’s settlement Newman will not get the day in court she requested. She is aware a settlement could look like admitting defeat but she stops short of saying either party won or lost in this case.

“I requested the hearing and I was willing to go through the process,” she said. “When you look at that process and a public hearing, and the way that would unfold, even if you win, you lose. I don’t think it’s a positive thing for me to do considering the situation. I don’t think it’s a pleasant thing for anybody.

“I had my reasons for wanting (to go to a hearing) and they haven’t gone away, but I think getting this behind me is important.”

Board member Henry Clark was the lone dissenting vote to all three motions passed concerning Newman’s resignation, saying during the meeting, “I want it on the record, I think we should go to trial.”

When asked about his lone “Nay” vote and his comment, Clark declined to comment further, referring questions to board president Theresa Romens.

Romens said she was “glad” the matter has been resolved without a hearing.

“I think moving the district forward, getting our kids going with graduation not too far off and the window to be able to hire a new principal right here, the timing was right,” Romens said.

Newman said she plans to stay in education. She has no doubt her reputation may have been damaged by the investigation, the rumors and her resignation.

“But part of the motivation for settling is that I am staying in education,” she said. “Rumors happen. I’m not going to point at anyone or lay blame but things happen and it’s hard to get in front of them.

“The only thing I can say is my abilities and my reputation and what I’m able to do in education speaks for itself. My resume is strong and I just have to trust people who know my work and recognize it and will value it.”