Durant Restores Embattled Principal to All Duties

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By Ellen Kurt

DURANT, Iowa (AP) — The Durant School Board has reinstated its embattled principal to all duties she had before she was fired more than two years ago.

The board voted Monday night to restore Monica Rouse as the sole principal of Durant High School, the Muscatine Journal reported. Co-principal Tony Neumann agreed to give up his position to jointly administer the district's kindergarten through eighth grade program, the newspaper said Tuesday.

Board members didn't comment after the closed session. An attorney for the board, Rand Wonio, read a statement, which said the board acted in the "best interest" of students, faculty and staff.

The statement didn't say when Rouse would be reinstated.

Wonio and Superintendent Duane Bennett declined to comment on the case. Bennett directed Rouse and other faculty and staff not to talk to the media, the Journal said.

"Maybe now they finally get it," said Rouse's attorney, Cathy Cartee, after the board's decision.

"In view of the history of this board, we will take their word at face value. However, we cannot feel confident, in view of the fact that they have blatantly ignored each and every court order as it was issued," she said.

The board fired Rouse in 2010, citing several allegations of wrongdoing. She appealed her termination. Neumann was hired as high school principal in 2011 while the school board was appealing a district court's decision to reinstate Rouse.

In April, the Iowa Supreme Court declined to review the lower court decision that said Rouse was improperly fired and should get her job back.

Last week, a judge threatened board members with jail time if they didn't comply with the order. The judge also ordered the board and the school district to pay $12,000 in attorney fees.

Rouse has a libel lawsuit pending against the school board and seeks damages of an undetermined value.

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