Innocent until proven guilty.
While many of us are quick to judge the guilt or innocence of someone facing any type of charges, our system of government provides that individuals receive due process before the appropriate governing body renders a final judgment.
That principle also applies to employees of our school districts, including the Camdenton School District, which has been embroiled in alleged MAP testing irregularities for several months.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has found evidence that MAP cheating and improprieties did occur at the Camdenton Middle School.
The alleged MAP violations are isolated to the Middle School and two staff members — including Principal Sean Kirksey — were placed on administrative leave.
There are those among us who feel Camdenton school officials have been less than forthcoming with details of the allegations and the recent decision to place Kirksey on paid administrative leave.
Yes, we want the issue to be resolved so the district’s focus can return to educating our students.
But to deny Kirksey his due process rights, and to insist that school officials be more open would be shortsighted and potentially illegal.
Missouri’s Sunshine Law protects public employees by allowing school districts and municipalities to discuss the hiring, firing, disciplining or promoting of public employees in closed meetings.
That is done frequently as public officials seek to protect not only the public’s interest but also the employees’ rights.
While we agree that there has been a lack of information provided to the public, we also understand that for the district to comment further would be against the advice of their attorneys and could potentially violate Kirksey’s rights.
A special hearing will be held and based on the most recent decision of the school board, it will be open to the public.
They will then determine the degree of involvement by Kirksey and if a punishment should be levied.
These hearings are typically held behind closed doors, but Missouri law does allow the hearings to be open to the public at the request of the accused. We believe openness is always the best policy.
Kirksey is well known and well liked among his students, his peers and within the community.
Because he is well liked, however, doesn’t give him carte blanche.
The board and administration have been placed in the untenable position of being Kirksey’s judge and jury until the upcoming hearing.
The Camdenton School District has been rocked by controversy for several months.
Disharmony among board members and administrators led to staff resignations and a turnover within the board of directors.
Page 2 of 2 - Now, the district is faced with the MAP cheating allegations.
We love our Camdenton School District. We want what is best for our children.
Moving forward quickly, under the tenants of the law, is in the best interests of the district, its patrons — and Kirksey.