House superintendent put on paid leave
March 22, 2023
HOUSE - House Muncipal Schools Superintendent Bonnie Lightfoot was placed on paid administrative leave last Tuesday by the school board.
Parents said the move was in response to the handling of an alleged threat made by a student, but school board members would not confirm.
The unanimous vote to place Lightfoot on paid leave followed a 2 1/2-hour executive session. Lightfoot left the board's meeting room with board members but was not with them when they returned to the meeting room from the closed session.
Board President Clint Runyan said he would draft a letter to board members outlining details of Lightfoot's paid administrative leave but said he could not discuss details because it was a personnel matter.
Board member Randy Lee said placing Lightfoot on leave was "a hard thing to do." He could not discuss the leave terms, he said, "because lawyers are involved."
Lightfoot did not respond to a call from The News seeking comment.
Parents attending Tuesday's meeting complained in interviews that on Feb. 23, parents were not notified of an incident in which a middle-school student had allegedly made death threats to some other students.
In addition, Lisa Downey, a parent of one of the students involved, said Quay County sheriff's deputies were called to the school, but parents were not notified. Downey said that violated a school policy, which states, "should a peace officer appear on campus requesting to interview a student attending the school, the school administrator shall be notified and the school office shall contact the student's parents."
Another parent, Cami Shoemaker, a former House school employee, said she was not aware of the Feb. 23 incident until her children came home from school and told her. Shoemaker also said the offending student was not suspended from school on the day of the incident but was suspended later.
Marty Lavender, parent of a House High School student, asked if it were true the student who made the threats would be returning to school on Wednesday. Board members responded the child would return after suspension on Wednesday.
Board member Lee, however, said he would send his own child to school on Wednesday, confident the child would be safe.
Lavender also said Lightfoot had a history of "running off teachers and students." Lightfoot "bullied" them and "made life miserable for them," he said.
Shoemaker said she had transferred her children to Melrose schools.