Five hours and thirteen minutes after the executive session, the Garretson Board of Education resolved to terminate the contract with Chris Long, a junior high and high school principal and football coach.
Long’s contract came into effect immediately with a motion minutes after the board ended its executive session at 11:19 pm. motion.
Hearing officers prepared fact-finding and legal conclusions regarding Long’s case, and further decisions were approved and adopted by the school board, Shannon Nordstrom explained in a motion.
Long’s certificate of education may jeopardize the decision, but it’s not clear what his crime caused his dismissal.
Rumors are swirling in the small town of Garretson, but Nordstrom did not comment or explain the long attack to Argus Leader, Garretson Gazette, or South Dakota Newswatch on Wednesday night after the hearing. ..
This decision was made after hours of private meetings at Garretson’s school library. There, the general public could not see the minutes through a glass plate, and the double-glazed door leading to the library was covered with black drawing paper.
In the proceedings, except that Long and his attorney David Kroon, and Guy Johnson and district attorney Sam Kerr step into the administration office for a break and have the board deliberate. Little was shown about what was happening.
Nordstrom also explained at the start of the hearing that within minutes of the public session, hearing officer Rodney Freeman would serve as a legal counsel to the board for the purpose of the employee’s hearing.
“For myself, I’m sure the rest of the board can nod, but I know there are a lot of concerns about this issue. I can see it. You can, “Nordstrom said at the beginning of the meeting. “It weighs heavily on us. We have to get over this and see where things end up. At this point, I think we have a lot of different ideas and ideas. What we are trying to do tonight will be based on the evidence presented to us. “
Johnson, Long, Kroon, and Kerr urged the board to leave the building an hour before the meeting was open to the public and fire Long.
As of Thursday morning, Long is still listed as a staff member on the district’s website, and his educational qualifications are listed as active on Teacher 411, the Ministry of Education’s educator search tool.
Can we find out why Long was fired?
In South Dakota, one of the reasons for the district’s confidentiality is that no personnel information other than salary and regular directory information is disclosed. Nor are law enforcement agencies or other public authorities responsible for investigating crimes against humanity creating or receiving records.
In a letter to the district community on February 3, Johnson maintained the goal of keeping the board and government informed of stakeholders about issues affecting the district, but privacy issues, school districts. He said that the policy, the law on basic human decency, limits what can be shared.
“If there are imminent concerns about student safety, the district will immediately notify parents,” Johnson said in a letter. “In this case, there is nothing.”
Long’s certificate is at stake, so unless Long himself speaks, there may be another chance to learn more if the state disciplinary action against his certificate.
The state began publishing disciplinary reports on teacher eligibility last summer after being inquired by Argus Leader about the state’s personnel privacy law and releaseable data from the education sector.
Long did not comment on the situation on Wednesday night.
The community shows support for Chris length
Still, dozens of Garretson residents, including his students, school graduates, family, friends, and colleagues, have emerged to help Long. Many of his supporters wore “long strong” shirts to show solidarity.
Tana Clark, a Sioux Falls teacher and former Garretson School board member who circulated a petition in support of Long, said she was very disappointed with the decision shortly after Long’s contract ended. And the community. “
Clark said she and Garretson’s other parents were concerned that she and Garretson’s other parents were not immediately informed that the principal had taken leave in mid-January. General knowledge of his vacation was provided by the district only after the Garretson Gazette article questioned Long’s position at school.
Shortly thereafter, a letter was sent from the school district on February 3, explaining that the school district would immediately notify parents of any imminent concerns about student safety. But Johnson said, “In this case, there is nothing.”
Students later protested Long’s absence in a sit-in at school and a basketball game on February 4.
Clark said this is a personnel issue and respects the need for confidentiality, but transparency needs to be increased throughout this long process. She also questioned how the board was guided by the executive branch on this issue and said there may have been no discussion at the school board level about the decision to leave Long on vacation.
“Mr. I’ve been off our school for five weeks for a long time,” she said. “He is an integral part of this school community. Children depend on him. He has great relationships with many of the children here and they miss him. (Students) ) Emotional well-being has not been dealt with. “
Current ex-Garrettson students are upset
Clark says her son, a high school junior, is very angry with this issue because Long is his football coach and has played a big role in his life, and Long doesn’t come. He added that some students are considering open registration in other districts.
Clark also said that the community is unlikely to support something like “opt-out” because enough people are angry with the problem and dissatisfied with the process.
Matthew Gilbert, another junior in high school, created a YouTube video to support his basketball and soccer coach Long. Gilbert said he has been known as Long for many years and is a good friend of Long’s son.
“(Long) I always help get better in sports and school,” Gilbert said. “He has been my best friend for a long time and always cares about all the students in the school, so I want him to stay. He knows everyone at a personal level. So it makes the school much better. He’s basically the glue that connects this school to the town. “
Gilbert said he loved him, hoping to come back soon, thanking him for everything he had done for school if he could speak something long during the meeting.
After the board resolved to dismiss Long, some wept and ended the meeting, and some in his family hugged each other.
Rachel Kint, who graduated from Garretson High School in 2020, said she had long realized that Long was a “cool guy” and supported her in her freshman year, making a big difference in her life.
“In the year of the basketball freshman, I was playing for the national team and the coach let me play with the starter,” Kint said. “I had the worst habit of my life and stood with my eyes rounded (in the office). He walked (towards me) and asked,” Rachel, what’s wrong? ” rice field. He put his hand on my shoulder and said it was okay, you just have to continue. “
Kindt said the community wants to stay Long and wants him to attend the school and remain a spokesperson for the school.
This article was originally published in Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Garretson Principal and Coach Chris Long was fired Wednesday night