The resignation of yet another department head from the Camdenton R-III school district has raised concerns among some school board members who believe the district's reputation is being tarnished and their mission is being lost as a result of discord on the board of education.
The school district accepted the resignation of Dr. Kristy Kindwall, the director for the Department of Intervention. The department serves students in the district with special needs, as well as overseeing the Parents as Teachers and programs for students needing English services and serves more than 1,000 students district-wide.
Kindwall has been with the district since 1995. She began her career with the district as a special education teacher and later moved from the classroom to administration.
Kindwall has accepted a similar position with a St. Louis County district. She will remain on staff until the end of the school year.
The resignation has rekindled discussions among sources within the district and several members of the board about how the current board is operating.
Four of the seven school board members spoke out on the issue and pointed to a four to three vote on her most recent contract renewal.
Board members Nancy Masterson, Chris McElyea, Selynn Barbour and Jackie Schulte voted to approve the contract. Board members John Beckett, Jim Besancenez and Laura Martin voted against renewing her contract.
Board member Jackie Schulte said she believes Kindwall's resignation has "everything to do with certain dysfunctional members of this board."
"Please look at the vote to extend her contract, it was 4-3, in all the years Dr. Kindwall has been with our district she has never had a vote against her. Even with the fact that the co-teaching process she has facilitated in the Camdenton R-II school district has become a model for the schools across our country, certain members of this board were determined to run her off."
This is the second, factual example of a vote of no confidence of the same board members that reverberates among not only Camdenton, but the entire state, according to board member Selynn Barbour.
"Another highly-qualified administrator is leaving our district and leaving not only a job-opening, but a widening wound that will be hard to heal and difficult to replace," she said.
Barbour said the impact was evidenced by the pool of applicants being smaller than School of the Osage to fill the assistant superintendent's position. School of the Osage had 62 candidates apply for a similar position while Camdenton attracted 28 applicants. The district filled the position internally.
As Camdenton looks to fill the newest job opening, Barbour says prospective candidates may again not rush forward as word spreads quickly among school districts that some Camdenton board members are continuing to choose: to not communicate among the entire board at meetings, micromanage at and away during board meetings and swing-away via pivotal, compulsory votes.
Page 2 of 2 - "These continued choices of some of the board members not only harm our students, our parents, our staff but our patrons as we may not be able to attract, employ and retain highly-qualified individuals to continue our hallmark of educational and life-preparing successes," Barbour said. "We, as board members are selected to empower students' success, not rip away their educational foundation and framework."
Board president Nancy Masterson said it came as no surprise to her that other school districts would want KIndwall's expertise. Masterson described Kindwall as an exceptional educator and very knowledgeable in the area of special services.
"It is a matter of public record that when Dr. Kindwall's contract for the 2013-2014 year was recommended by the administration, there were three votes cast against renewing her contract," Masterson said. "I think this would make any individual leery of the coming years, and make them think that another school district might be a better place to make a difference."
Kindwall's resignation comes less than three months after Assistant Superintendent Brian Henry announced he was leaving the district. Henry cited frustration with the direction some members of the Camdenton School Board are taking.
Over the past few years there has been a "struggle with the administration and a few members of board," Henry said. Education seems be taking a back seat to the "politics that have overtaken the board," Henry said in an interview with the Lake Sun shortly after his resignation.
The school board members Henry was referring to are Martin, Beckett and Besancenez.
Martin, Beckett and Besancenez did not respond to Lake Sun's request for comments.