Education

Atwater superintendent abruptly fired by school board

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The sudden firing of a North Valley superintendent has many in the community calling for answers.

The Atwater Elementary School District Board voted to fire its current superintendent Tuesday night.

Melinda Hennes held the position for seven years.

Three of the five Atwater Elementary School board members voted to fire Hennes just months after she received a positive review and a raise.

Now many in the community want to know why she was laid off, but the board members are not providing any answers.

"It was a shock, it couldn't be more shocking," teacher Rebecca Robinson said.

Robinson says she and many other teachers in the Atwater Elementary School District are stunned and disappointed by the firing of superintendent Melinda Hennes.

"She has great leadership abilities, she's a people person, she's all about the kids, and she got along with the parents. She worked so hard to get the teachers what they needed to get the job done," Robinson said.

The school board voted three to two to fire the superintendent during a closed executive session Tuesday night. The board president tells Action News she can't comment on why because it would violate the Brown Act.

Even Hennes says the reason is a mystery. She released a statement saying she is, "unable to understand the motive for the board's recent actions, I remain deeply disappointed by their decision to terminate my service to the students and staff of the Atwater community."

"They need to answer the question, 'why are you doing this to our superintendent?'" former Atwater elementary school board member Kory Billings said.

Billings says Hennes has been an outstanding superintendent. He points out she received great scores from the board during an evaluation in January. Now he says the district will have to pay more than $200 thousand dollars in severance money and fees to find a replacement.

"In my opinion the board is wasting their money, our money, our taxpayer's money on trying to find a new superintendent and terminating someone who was doing an excellent job," Billings said.

For now, other administrators are handling the superintendent duties.

Action News called one board member who voted to fire Hennes to ask about the plans for finding a replacement, but he did not comment.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
atwater, merced county, education, sara sandrik
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