Group speaks out after Albany Superintendent placed on paid administrative leave

The Albany School Superintendent was placed on paid administrative leave in early February but city residents say they still are waiting to find out why.

Posted: Feb 18, 2020 4:47 PM
Updated: Feb 18, 2020 7:59 PM

(ALBANY, Mo.) Albany School Superintendent was placed on paid administrative leave in early February but city residents say they still are waiting to find out why.

The Albany R-III School Board voted to put Brian Pekarek, the superintendent hired in 2018, on paid administrative leave. The Board has placed Dick Smith as the Interim Superintendent.

“What’s going on in our town?” said Albany High School Sophomore Ashley Sterkis. “It’s chaos.”

It is not known why Pekarek was placed on paid administrative leave.

The Gentry County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday morning, it is not investigating Mr. Pekarek and has not been involved in any way with his removal.

Dozens of Albany residents and students attended Monday’s school board meeting. Many attendees said they were there to get answers from the board members about Pekarek.

“Was there a reason behind this? Did he do something crazy that we don’t know about?” Sterkis said. “There are a bunch of rumors going around like he did this, he did that, and I’m just sitting here like, can they not tell us?”

Brandon Holcomb, a parent of a district student, said he understood there would be limitations to what the board could say but that it was time for some kind of answer.

“We are not pointing fingers at anybody,” Holcomb said. “We are not blaming anybody. Right now we are just looking for some answers to some questions. We don’t have enough information to come to a conclusion but that’s what we are looking for.”

School board members did not let the public comment at the close of Monday’s session. When community members spoke out objecting, board members said they had not followed the proper procedure for getting on the meeting schedule.

Brandon Holcomb said he, as a parent and representative of the community, would call the Albany central office and get on the agenda for the next board meeting.

KQ2 reached out to the school board and Albany School District’s attorney to see why the Superintendent was placed on leave. No response was provided by the time of publication.

Before joining Albany, Pekarek was an Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. During his more than 20-year education career, he has also served as a superintendent at USD 224 Clifton-Clyde, USD 257 Iola, USD 220 Ashland, assistant principal at Emporia, and before that, he served as a school counselor at Basehor-Linwood and Haysville schools, and a social studies teacher at Smokey Valley and Quinter schools.

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