Mid-Prairie board questions suitability of club volunteer

By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL

WELLMAN ? The Mid-Prairie School Board held a special meeting Saturday morning at the high school to discuss the status of a volunteer.

Trent Yoder, a volunteer with the Mid-Prairie Spelling Club, was convicted of sexual exploitation of a child in 1998. His name was removed from the state?s sex offender registry in 2008 after he served six weeks in jail and four years of probation. In 2014, Yoder requested to be a volunteer in the Mid-Prairie Community School District. At first, superintendent Mark Schneider denied Yoder?s request, but after an appeal and statements from former Wash-ington County attorney Gerald Partridge and an Iowa District Court judge Yoder was allowed to volunteer starting in April 2015, according to a statement from Schneider sent to The Journal on Friday, April 27.

According to the minutes from the meeting, Trent Yoder, who is the volunteer the board was discussing, told the board members he wouldn?t volunteer in any school events for the remainder of the school year. He would still be involved in the Kalona Spelling Club, which isn?t a part of the school district.

School board President Jeremy Pickard said it?s not the board?s job to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the district. Those are the responsibilities of the administrators and superintendent. The board didn?t have to make any decisions about Yoder?s volunteer status since he made a statement at the beginning of the meeting that he wouldn?t volunteer for the remainder of the school year. However, the school board said they would leave it up to Schneider to reserve the right to reinstate Yoder as a volunteer.

Schneider also made a statement at the meeting.

?To the school board members, staff members, parents and community members of the Mid-Prairie Community School District ? A decision I made in 2015 concerning the volunteer status of Trent Yoder has greatly divided the Mid-Prairie community,? Schneider said. ?For this I apologize. While I have enjoyed my 30-year career as a Mid-Prairie teacher, elementary principal, and superintendent, in order for me to help work toward a resolution to this issue and the other important issues facing this district, I need the support of the school board, school staff, parents and community. Therefore, at the May 14 Mid-Prairie School Board meeting, I will ask the School Board to take a vote of ?confidence? or ?no confidence? as it relates to my superintendent responsibilities. The time between now and May 14 will allow the School Board the opportunity to gather staff member, parent, and community opinion about my future effectiveness. Obviously, the public is welcome to attend this meeting. If the result is a vote of ?no confidence,? I will immediately submit my resignation effective June 30, 2018. While I am not quite ready for retirement, I will leave with no hard feelings, looking forward to having more time to properly spoil my grandchildren.?

There was also discussion held about reviewing board policies regarding volunteers in the school district. Pickard recommended a committee be formed to review those policies. The board agreed with Pickard.

The next school board meeting will be at 7 p.m., Monday, May 14, at Mid-Prairie central administration office.