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School Board accepts City High principal’s resignation

BY NORA HEATON | FEBRUARY 24, 2010 7:30 AM

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City High Principal Mark Hanson has a lot of local support. But that didn’t stop the Iowa City School Board from accepting his resignation Tuesday night.

Nearly 700 community members offered signatures to the School Board, asking them to deny his resignation. More than 80 backed him with their attendance at the meeting. A few were moved to tears.

For more than an hour, parents and students attested to Hanson’s exceptional performance.
Collins Byrd, the parent of a City High junior, choked up as he addressed the board.

“Do what you can to keep this man at City High,” he said.

School Board members had initially removed his resignation from their consent list, but they announced after exiting a closed session that they would accept it effective June 30. Board members didn’t discuss the resignation in open session; they were still meeting at press time.

Though Hanson resigned earlier this month in an e-mail to City High staff, his resignation had to be accepted by the School Board.

Byrd, along with most other parents, said he believes district officials ostracized Hanson after the principal submitted an editorial to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, voicing his disapproval of redistricting plans.

Several parents said in open discussion they had urged Hanson to speak out on behalf of City High. As a result, many said, it seemed that he was being “punished for telling the truth” after working to teach students about limitless potential.

“You want to infect our children and our students with this idea that there is a limit?” City High junior Rai Tokuhisa asked the board. “Then let him resign. That’s a great way to do it. That’s a ceiling. That’s a cap, and that doesn’t have to happen.”

Leo Clougherty said both his daughters “loved Mr. Hanson.”

“They understand that he’s a rare man who can grip all facets of the community, and bring that to the table, and support them in whatever they’re doing,” Clougherty said.

Students also praised Hanson’s ability to reach out to individuals in the school.

Patrick Dolan told the board that Hanson shook his hand every day before school. Brandi Rivers said Hanson knew her name by the second week of her freshman year. Arianna Aron said he sees beyond stereotypes and viewed students as individuals.

“He looks at me as Arianna Aron, not as a troubled teen or a problem child,” she said.

When the board returned announced its decision to accept Hanson’s resignation, around 75 people stood up immediately and left the building.

“I am very disappointed,” Byrd said on his way out. “Here was a man who gave everything he had to create an environment in which all these kids could develop their potential to the fullest extent.”


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