Many in the Harrisonville community remain angry, and concerned, with their school board.
They feel the Harrisonville Board of Education pressured school district superintendent Bryan McDonald to announce his resignation Jan. 30.
“It’s tragic,” said Chris Bell, a former school board member. “It’s terrible in the sense that Dr. McDonald has made tremendous progress in getting this district going in the right direction.”
A press release issued jointly by McDonald and the school district provided no additional details other than he would resign on June 30. McDonald has not publicly commented on his resignation. The board began accepting applications for a new superintendent Monday.
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McDonald was relieved of his duties immediately and will be on paid administrative leave through the remainder of the school year. The board has since named Tim Ryan to serve as the district’s interim superintendent.
“The members of the school board have not met to compile a list of criteria for a new superintendent,” said board president Marie Vallee.
McDonald’s resignation came after the school board met in closed session for more than 21/2 hours Jan. 28 to discuss personnel and legal matters.
The board has held numerous closed meetings during the past six months, and some district patrons have speculated that at least some have been held to discuss the superintendent’s dismissal.
“It’s my belief that they have been and continue to be extremely disingenuous to their constituents,” Bell said. “Until we learn otherwise, I have no reason to think that this is not just simply more than personal vendettas.”
Bell said he wouldn’t be shocked if some of the “best and brightest” teachers choose to leave the district.
Former Harrisonville school teacher Marci Bauml is also calling for the board members to be open about their actions and intent since last spring.
“I would like to get to the bottom of this,” she said. “I don’t think they’ve represented the district or the community in our best interest. It’s a very sad day for the Harrisonville School District.”
Harrisonville resident and business owner Obie Carl is furious with the board’s recent actions.
“I am extremely disappointed with the actions of the school board,” Carl said. “I’m especially annoyed because so much of the Harrisonville community is behind Dr. McDonald for all of his achievements during the time he has been here.”
Carl honored McDonald as Educator of the Year last week at the Harrisonville Chamber’s annual dinner and awards presentation. The award was announced Jan. 20 at the district’s monthly board meeting.
The 30 to 40 community members attending the meeting gave the superintendent a standing ovation when Carl made the announcement. McDonald received a second standing ovation at the chamber’s dinner.
“In the years that I have known Dr. McDonald, his first priority has been to bring education to the children,” Carl said.
Carl said that in the 50 years of the chamber’s existence, there have never been so many award nominations for the same person.
Ryan will be the acting superintendent through June 30. He has served as the assistant superintendent of human resources and operations in Harrisonville since 2010.
He has a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s degree in secondary school administration, and a doctorate in educational leadership.
Ryan’s background includes four years as assistant principal at Lee’s Summit North High School; five years as high school principal at Pleasant Hill High School; and five years as assistant superintendent in Harrisonville.
His wife, Melanie, works as a health sciences instructor at the Cass Career Center.