Jen Munson and Jon Sampson
Jen Munson and Jon Sampson

February 8, 2019

Carroll Community school board members are set to vote today in a special meeting to accept an employee’s resignation — which comes after nearly 10 hours of closed-door talks in the past month about their superintendent’s “professional competency” — but they have refused repeated requests to publicly identify the employee, even though such letters of resignation are a public record.

The special meeting starts at 5 p.m. in the board conference room at Adams Elementary School, 1026 N. Adams St., and is slated to last 15 minutes, according to its agenda.

The board is set to hold a public forum — during which residents can speak — and then vote to accept the resignation.

School board members refused repeated requests by the Daily Times Herald on Thursday for a copy of the resignation letter they will vote upon today.

“The resignation letter will be available tomorrow after the board has officially acted on the resignation,” school board President Jen Munson said.

Board member Jon Sampson also declined to release the letter ahead of the meeting and said the district’s attorney advised them “we’re not breaking the law.”

Both board members directed Times Herald reporters to contact the attorney, Brett Nitzschke, of Cedar Rapids, who did not respond.

“There’s no question that this is a public record that must be released,” said Randy Evans, executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, of the letter. “It’s unfair to the residents to not know whether the resignation is of the superintendent or of the school custodian.

“This is a common occurrence where board members and board lawyers fail to realize that they’re working for the people of the school district, and that the people of the school district are the owners of the school district, not the other way around.”

The special meeting comes two days after the last of three confidential meetings the board has held since Jan. 3 to discuss Superintendent Kevin Lein’s competency.

Lein is in his first year at the helm of the district. He did not respond to telephone calls seeking comment for this article and did not take part in a previously arranged interview Thursday with the Times Herald on a different topic.