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Details are scarce in the course of the Mid-Prairie administration’s investigation
Details are scarce in the course of the Mid-Prairie administration’s investigation

Mid-Prairie Superintendent Brian Stone is one of three district administrators summoned to hearings by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. (Kalen McCain/The Union)

KALONA — Three Mid-Prairie educators face administrative hearings that could revoke their teaching and school administration licenses after the Iowa Department of Education found “reasonable suspicion of violations” of the state’s teacher code of conduct.

The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners last month scheduled hearings for Mid-Prairie Superintendent Brian Stone, former middle school principal Rob Hruby and former special education director Amy Shalla. The orders came after an investigator found “reasonable cause” in mid-May for a handful of rule violations, according to notes on the staff members’ teaching and school administration licenses, which are publicly available.

A former teacher in the district said The Union that the review board’s decision was based on complaints she had filed, but she spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of public retaliation and declined further comment on the documents.

A Department of Education spokesperson said more information about the hearings should be directed to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. Representatives for the Justice Department and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for more information about the hearings or the circumstances leading up to them.

In its June 20 meeting minutes, the Board of Review ordered a hearing for all three Mid-Prairie employees based on a “reasonable suspicion” that they may have violated Rule 25.3(6)l, r and s of the Iowa Administrative Code. These rules apply to school officials who:

  • Delegating tasks to unqualified personnel (l)
  • Failure to adjust the assignments of contract employees who state that they do not have the required license for an assignment (r)
  • Failure to protect the safety of staff and students

Stone declined to comment on the allegations. Hruby and Shalla recently left their employment with the school district and accepted new jobs at other schools. They could not be reached for comment.

The Mid-Prairie School Board held closed meetings on June 8 and July 1, citing a section of the Iowa Code that allows private meetings to discuss an employee’s job performance. Minutes of both meetings posted on the district’s website say they were for the principal’s evaluation. Both meetings lasted about two hours and resulted in no further action, according to the minutes.

Board President Jake Snider said an attorney advised school board members not to comment on when they learned of the investigation or related developments, but he said the board has had few major issues with Stone since he took office as Mid-Prairie superintendent in 2022.

“There’s always going to be ups and downs, he’s a first-time superintendent, but I would say we’re on the right track after the ups and downs we’ve experienced,” Snider said. “He seems to be gaining ground, I think he’s doing a good job.”

At another meeting on June 10, Stone was approved for a 3% raise, bringing his total salary and benefits to $211,096 for the upcoming school year. Snider said that increase is in line with the rate set for most district employees following collective bargaining for the 2024-25 school year.

As for what to do next, Snider said the board will wait for the legal process to play out before taking any action. He said it would be unwise to act without knowing the outcome of Stone’s hearing, noting that a finding of probable cause is not the same as proving wrongdoing.

“There are several cases that have progressed to this stage … several where there was reasonable suspicion that were dismissed. So we have no idea what the likelihood is that it will go forward,” he said. “It may go one way or the other, but we have to adapt and deal with these things as they come. If we predict which way it’s going to go and try to make decisions based on that prediction, we’re just going to embarrass ourselves.”

The board, however, seemed ready to take a more forceful stance in its other public statements. In an emailed statement to the media, the decision-making body said it stood behind its superintendent and contradicted the state’s claim that there was probable cause to suspect a crime.

“The board believes there is no factual basis for this finding and will work with the Board of Educational Examiners and legal counsel to ensure a fair and equitable resolution,” the email said. It added: “The board will continue to support Superintendent Stone and all Mid-Prairie staff throughout the legal process.”

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By Liam