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In a stunning reversal of trends, an Oregon school district superintendent was fired this Monday for refusing to not enforce the state’s draconian mask mandate for schoolchildren.
Usually, school officials and teachers are fired for refusing to abide by mask mandates. But in the case of now-unemployed Adrian Public School District superintendent Kevin Purnell, the exact opposite scenario played out.
“The Adrian School Board, convening in an emotionally charged special meeting, voted 4-1 Monday evening to terminate Purnell after meeting in an executive, or closed door, session for less than half an hour to consider the matter,” The Oregonian reported Tuesday.
“The board provided no public explanation for its surprise decision to oust a superintendent who has been on the job for three years and in the district for 14 years. But critics and supporters of Purnell’s stance on mask mandates made clear it was a pivotal issue in his fissure with the board,” the paper added.
All Adrian School Board chair Eddie Kincade would say was that Purnell had failed to abide by the board’s directives.
None of this is to suggest that Purnell is a mask zealot. In fact, according to The Oregonian, he’s “been a vocal opponent” of radically far-left Gov. Kate Brown’s widely panned mask mandates for everybody, including schoolchildren.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) August 26, 2021
He even penned a letter last month arguing that “local agencies have a better understanding of the social, emotional, psychological and physical needs of their schools and communities, rather than the one-size-fits all approach that is now mandated.”
And he helped organize a protest last year to push for the Oregon Department of Education to reopen schools. And then when the protests provoked criticism from COVID zealots, he fiercely defended them.
“We’ve seen protests that have been called peaceful all summer that have happened around the nation and in our state. This is a peaceful protest. It’s disruptive, which protests are, but the parents and the community want kids back in school,” he reportedly said at the time.
And so his decision to enforce Brown’s mask mandate wasn’t rooted in mask zealotry. It was rooted, rather, in Purnell’s commitment to living by the adage “rules are rules.”
“Kevin likes rules,” local resident Paul Shenk candidly said during a public board hearing last month, according to The Oregonian.
“What I feel the frustration is, is that we expect the administrators to advocate for the community. As superintendents, you guys need to band together to fight,” he added.
It’s not clear whether he supported or opposed Purnell’s decision, though a photo of Shenk speaking does show him unmasked.
On the other hand, it was clear Monday that local small businessman Eric Ellis did staunchly respect and support his decision.
“We say that an outcome of education at Adrian is to produce good citizens. To achieve that, our children must be led by honorable and moral leaders. Dismissing Mr. Purnell would send the exact opposite message – that we want only educational leaders who lead when it is convenient and non-controversial, and in accordance with the short-term passions of the vocal minority,” he said during Monday’s meeting.
Many students felt similarly.
Adrian High School senior Elizabeth Nielsen works to hold back tears during the public comments section of an Adrian School Board meeting on Monday, Aug. 30. The board voted to fire its superintendent over his adherence to mask mandates. Potent photo by @JayDuck187/@MalheurNews pic.twitter.com/Bl1uhWN2pz
— Les Zaitz (@LesZaitz) August 31, 2021
“I’m a senior this year at Adrian, and I don’t really care what it takes. Being online in school was not good. And if it means doing something I don’t want to do, because I don’t want to wear a mask, I’ll do what it takes to attend school in person,” Associated Student Body president Elizabeth Nielson said.
Purnell’s termination comes amid an upsurge in people of all stripes, including teachers, being terminated for not abiding by mask mandates.
On Wednesday, a report emerged that an instructional assistant at Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was booted “for choosing not to wear a mask,” according to local station WANE.
Also on Wednesday, The News & Observer reported that a Johnson County, North Carolina high school teacher faces up to nine weeks of unpaid leave and a possible job termination over her insistence “that it should be her constitutional right whether she wears a face mask.”
“It is not the job of government agencies to dictate when and where it is appropriate to utilize the rights afforded to me by being a citizen of the US. It is their job to uphold the Constitution affording these rights to all of the citizens all of the time,” teacher Aurora Preston reportedly said in a statement.
“If someone disagrees with that stance, it would be that person’s right and it’s wonderful to have that choice to do so,” she added.
Meanwhile back in Oregon, the Adrian School Board is now considering filing a class-action lawsuit against Brown’s even more draconian mandate that all school staff and volunteers be vaccinated.
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