JHHS principal placed on administrative leave

One Jackson Heights district administrator remains on administrative leave and two others had their duties modified for the rest of the 2021-22 school year following Jackson Heights USD 335 Board of Education action on Monday.

Following a 15-minute executive session for discussion of personnel, administrative leave for Middle and High School Principal Darren Shupe, who was placed on leave effective Feb. 21 by District Superintendent Jim Howard for unspecified reasons, was extended “until further board action.”

Later in the meeting, the board voted to transfer Elementary Principal Chris Appuhn to cover Shupe’s duties for the rest of the school year and to add the duties of elementary principal to Howard’s existing work load.

Appuhn, who joined the district as elementary principal halfway through the 2020-21 school year following the early exit of Annie Diederich, also submitted his resignation from the district, effective at the end of the current school year. The board accepted Appuhn’s resignation “with regrets.”

Howard confirmed that Appuhn had accepted the assistant principal’s position at the Tallgrass Learning Center, which is part of the Auburn-Washburn school district in southwest Topeka.

Howard did not specify whether Shupe’s suspension had anything to do with an alleged Feb. 8 incident that was reported to be of a sexual nature. According to Jackson County District Court records, four youths were reportedly involved in the alleged incident.

It was reported that Howard had recently uploaded a video to his YouTube channel stating that several rumors regarding an incident that was reportedly of a sexual nature “have been addressed as a school” and that appropriate action had been taken following “a lengthy investigation.”

Also during Monday’s meeting, the board was asked to take action on a one-year extension of Howard’s contract but took no action, stating that the district would look to move all administrators to one-year contracts in the future.

In other business on Monday, the board:

* Approved the meeting’s agenda and consent agenda, the latter including minutes from the Feb. 14 and March 4 meetings, current bills and activity account reports, treasurer’s report and monthly budget summary.

* Viewed a video presentation created by Gary Keehn’s wildlife management class for the Samsung “Solve For Tomorrow” competition. The class has been named Kansas state winners in the competition, it was previously reported.

* Adopted a plan for sports jersey rotation.

* Approved a fee of $115 for students taking the district’s driver education course.

* Met in executive session for three minutes to discuss teacher salary contract negotiations. On returning to open session, board members Doug Amon and Neal Keeler were appointed to represent the board in teacher salary contract negotiations for the 2022-23 school year.

* Met in executive session for 15 minutes to discuss non-elected personnel matters. On returning to open session, the board accepted the resignations of Tara Williams as high school cheer sponsor and Mark Grollmes as bus driver and bus maintenance director effective at the end of the current school year.

* Adjourned the meeting at 8:20 p.m. All seven board members were present.

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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