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Ewell Resigns as Mount Vernon Superintendent

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MOUNT VERNON, Iowa - After four years in the post, Pam Ewell resigned as superintendent of the Mount Vernon Community School District during a regular meeting that stretched late into Monday evening.

The board approved her resignation by a 5-2 vote.

After more than an hour in closed session discussing Ewell's future with the district, the board reconvened in open session and Ewell delivered a statement in which she thanked board members, students, staff and the community. She also stated that she had no regrets about reaching the goals set out for her when her time as superintendent began in 2009.

"I want you to know that I've done my very best," Ewell said.

A standing-room only crowd of district residents lined the walls of Mount Vernon High School's library on Monday night for the meeting.

Ewell's contract was up for renewal and a mix of community members and district staff spoke during the evening's public comment portion, expressing sentiments both in support of and against retaining the superintendent.

Some residents, including former school board member Debra Herrmann, felt that the outcome was predetermined in advance of Monday night's board meeting. During the proceedings, she used her time to remind the board members about the importance of open communication as opposed to stating her feelings about Ewell's employment (which she declined to share on the record).

"I do have feelings one way or the other, but I felt it was most important to compel [the board] to look at the facts," said Hermann, who served on the board and voted to hire Ewell in 2009 and renew her contract.

Kristi Keast, a music teacher at Mount Vernon's Washington Elementary School, voiced support for the school board. While she was not willing to say whether or not she felt Ewell should be retained, Keast countered comments regarding the board's supposed lack of transparency.

"They've been very open in talking to us," Keast said of the board members. "They really do have the best needs of the students in mind."

Ewell was a finalist earlier this month for a position as the new superintendent for the Carlisle Community School District.

Supporters and detractors both mentioned some of the struggles and tragedies Ewell faced during her time as Mount Vernon's superintendent, including the suicides of three students during the 2010-11 school year and a controversy surrounding a former Washington Elementary School's principal's physical conduct with students.

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