Several members of the community approached the Clay Community Schools (CCS) Board of Trustees Thursday expressing their support for a former administrator.
During patron's comments of the board's monthly meeting, a handful of residents pleaded with the board to rescind its decision from its May meeting, when the board accepted the resignation of former East Side Elementary School Principal Mary Ray.
Local resident Christy Cundiff told the board her children go to East Side Elementary. In addition, she said her children, and the children of others, were very "upset" about the decision.
"The circumstances of what went on in the last five days of school caused trust issues," Cundiff said. "There are broken hearts. East Side is broken. The one person they could count on is not there anymore."
During the May meeting, the board voted 5-0 in favor of accepting the immediate resignation of Ray, effective at the conclusion of her contract. Ray had served as East Side's principal since the fall of 1992.
Still, Cundiff and the others who approached the board Thursday hoped it would change its mind.
While Cundiff was discussing the issue with the board members, she stated she felt like there was no support from the school board.
"The one person that supported us, our children, is gone," Cundiff said. "This is a sad day for everybody ... you just got rid of the captain of the ship."
A former East Side student also approached the board, expressing her support for Ray.
"She made me feel welcome and she deserves to be principal," the student said. "She always did a good job. She did everything to help us. We were really sad to hear she wasn't going to be there the rest of the year. She wasn't just sweet to me. She was sweet to everyone who goes to East Side."
Local resident Jennifer Clark also spoke in support of Ray.
However, as Clark began to speak, school board president Rob Miller interrupted her, saying she was heading into a personnel issue, something the board could not discuss per legal matters.
"What is this meeting about," Clark asked.
CCS Superintendent Kim Tucker said it would not be appropriate -- or legal for that matter -- for the board members or her to discuss a personnel issue of this kind in a public meeting.
Still, members of the public demanded answers.
Clark then asked the board why the position had not been posted statewide.
Tucker said the corporation already had a group of applicants it had interviewed for the principal positions at both North Clay Middle School and Northview High School.
Officials felt they had enough applicants to continue its search for a new principal at East Side.
Brazil resident Scott Fosdick then approached the board. Fosdick said his children also went to East Side.
He also expressed concern about the way the situation had been handled, specifically how the corporation moved forward with the process of finding a new principal for the school.
"(Ray) has done a good job, but we (parents) have to move on," Fosdick said, adding he hoped the board had done its "due diligence" in the hiring process.
"We wanted to expedite the process," Tucker said. "We felt like we had the candidates after all the interviews for other positions."
"We did the same thing last year," board member Amy Burke Adams said in reference to the hiring of Tim Rayle as CCS Assistant Superintendent. Previously, Rayle served as the principal of Northview.
Later in the meeting, Tucker asked for approval of the hiring of Elizabeth Wernz to fill the position of principal at East Side.
She said the committee which helped with the hiring process of both new principals at North Clay and Northview was brought back for the hiring process at East Side.
"We felt like we had two really good candidates to consider," Tucker said.
Board member Jennifer Kaelber motioned to accept the recommendation, with Tammy Beasley offering the second.
The board voted 5-0-2 on the issue. Board members Ron Scherb and Forrest Buell abstained from voting.
Wernz, who lives in Clay County, was not at Thursday's meeting. However, according to officials, she has spent the past five years in administration in the Eminence Community School Corporation, including four years as a vice principal and one year as principal.
Before adjournment, board members told those in the audience they appreciated seeing the support for Ray from the community.
Miller said when this board was elected, it promised to be more open, something he said was on full display Thursday as the board fielded several questions throughout the meeting from the audience.
"I think tonight, we've proved that," he said. "But we can't have a free-for-all. We want to hear from the people, but we are limited (by laws)."
In other personnel issues, the board accepted a waiver of retirement date for East Side Elementary Secretary/Treasurer Regina Paullus, via 7-0 vote.