Rural Oregon School Board Rewards Superintendent By Firing Him Over Masks
In rural Malheur County, Oregon, the tiny town of Adrian, population 157, shitcanned its school superintendent Monday evening because the school board didn't like the fact that he had complied with Gov. Kate Brown's order that all public school students, staff, and teachers wear face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Malheur County, right next to the Idaho border, is seeing a surge in COVID cases, but never mind about preventing disease, this is about liberty and standing up to those commies in Salem with their masks and their vaccines and their critical race spotted owls.
So after one week of school, and a four to one vote by the Adrian school board, Superintendent Kevin Purnell was out of a job, as the Malheur Enterprise reports:
The board provided no public explanation for its surprise decision to oust a superintendent who has been on the job for three years and in the district for 14 years. But critics and supporters of Purnell's stance on mask mandates made clear it was a pivotal issue in his fissure with the board.
Board Chair Eddie Kincade said after the meeting that the decision was because of Purnell's failure to follow board directives. He declined to elaborate.
That almost certainly translates to "didn't agree to reject the state mask mandate," although we suppose it's possible Purnell may also have simply not agreed to wash the board members' cars, who can possibly guess?
Following his dismissal, the Enterprise says, Purnell delivered "an emotional speech to an emotional crowd."
He said that he had at times failed to communicate well and that board members had at times failed to communicate in a civil manner.
"Ultimately, I feel that I have lost my way, and it began to consume me," Purnell said. "I have become tired. Tired of disappointing myself, my family, my friends, my colleagues."
Sounds to us like Stockholm Syndrome, if that even exists, which it might not.
The taxpayers of Adrian will at least have to pay out Purnell's contract for the next six months, to the tune of $52,500 plus his health insurance coverage, so they can all feel good about the school board's stand against government overreach.
Purnell has worked as an educator for 37 years in all, with19 of them as an administrator in various roles.
During public comments at the school board meeting, several colleagues and town residents spoke up for him, including local business owner Eric Ellis, who offered an eloquent statement that you could easily imagine coming from the town meeting guy in Norman Rockwell's "Freedom of Speech" painting.
We say that an outcome of education at Adrian is to produce good citizens. To achieve that, our children must be led by honorable and moral leaders. Dismissing Mr. Purnell would send the exact opposite message – that we want only educational leaders who lead when it is convenient and non-controversial, and in accordance with the short-term passions of the vocal minority.
No sarcasm about it — that's some Jimmy Stewart stuff, except the third-act victory over the small-minded science deniers doesn't appear likely.
Elizabeth Nielson, a senior and student body president at the local high school, said that to actually attend classes in person, she would be fine with wearing a mask.
Being online in school was not good. And if it means doing something I don't want to do, because I don't want to wear a mask, I'll do what it takes.
Oregon's Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Colt Gill, whose freaking name sound like a Jimmy Stewart character, said communities and educators have a "shared priority to reliably return students to full-time, in-person school this year," and that darn it, face coverings are effective in slowing the spread of the virus. Yes, yes, personal freedom and all that, but also "with personal freedom comes responsibility, not only for ourselves, but for our neighbors." We're reasonably sure he said that in a phone interview, since there are no reports of any state schools officials being literally stoned to death in Malheur County.
"Superintendents implementing safety protocols are NOT being political, they are trying to maintain in-person learning," Gill said. "The idea of a superintendent losing their job due to prioritizing in-person learning makes no sense."
Welcome to 2021 America, sir! You will not enjoy your stay, none of us are enjoying our stay here.
One local dipshit, Paul Shenk, complained at the board meeting that the problem with Purnell was that "Kevin likes rules," and we guess that means that real patriots think rules are tyranny, while true conservatives ignore rules. Shenk seemed to advise that instead of following rules, Purnell should have given in to peer pressure:
"What I feel the frustration is, is that we expect the administrators to advocate for the community," said Shenk. "As superintendents, you guys need to band together to fight."
We're not sure where Shenk ever got the impression that the motto of America's school superintendents was "Fight The Power."
The Enterprise's report notes that some parents expressed concerns that the mask policy might even endanger the survival of the Adrian school district altogether, since some parents have been pulling their kids out of school and sending them to "nearby Parma, Idaho, where there are virtually no COVID restrictions." Yippee, Idaho, land of free contagion.
In fact, though, even though Adrian's population shrank a bit in the last Census, to 157 residents, the school district covers more territory, and this year actually saw an increase in enrollment, to 275 kids in kindergarten through 12th grade.
For all the fuss over the state mask order, and Purnell's firing, there seems not to be a lot of mask tyranny happening in Adrian anyway:
While Adrian High School Principal BIlly Wortman insisted in an interview with the Enterprise that masks are required in his building, observers reported that few students at the high school are wearing them.
One high school student interviewed said that "not many" of her peers wear masks, but that at the elementary and middle school levels there has been more compliance.
The student said that when Wortman talked about masking, he invoked the framework of "discrimination."
If a fellow student wasn't wearing a mask, the student said, "We were told not to discriminate or bring it up as much. Try not to be discriminatory, basically."
And indeed, Wortman told the paper, "We don't want to discriminate against anybody here, and if I hear about discrimination against anybody, it gets dealt with swiftly." So he seems like quite the champion of the oppressed.
It turns out that, even though he got the boot for refusing to challenge Gov. Brown's mask order, even Purnell had argued it was a decision best left to local districts, for all the good it did him.
In conclusion, this pandemic will never end, ever, and we are doomed.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.