Board member says he will not resign his position

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Board member says he will not resign his position

De Soto school board member Scott Hancock listens to patron input during the USD 232 school board meeting at De Soto High School March 9.

De Soto school board member Scott Hancock listens to patron input during the USD 232 school board meeting at De Soto High School March 9.

Wildcat Photo

De Soto school board member Scott Hancock listens to patron input during the USD 232 school board meeting at De Soto High School March 9.

Wildcat Photo

Wildcat Photo

De Soto school board member Scott Hancock listens to patron input during the USD 232 school board meeting at De Soto High School March 9.

Rex Templin, Arts Editor

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Due to a unique situation, De Soto High School hosted the monthly USD 232 School Board meeting March 9. This meeting was moved to use the school’s theater in anticipation of a large attendance by the community and greater patron input to the board in order to discuss allegations against one particular board member: Scott Hancock.

Following the resignation of district administrators Dr. Doug Sumner and Dr. Jessica Dain, confusion reigned throughout the district. Several figures among the community, such as Karen Wall, a retired teacher from the district, and Anh Nguyen, a parent in the district, have directly linked the resignation of Dr. Sumner and Dr. Dain to Hancock’s accused behavior.

Several days after the resignation of Dr. Sumner, Nguyen published a blog which outlined her belief that Dr. Sumner resigned directly because Hancock deliberately intended to “push [Dr. Sumner] out of office.”

At the end of her article, Nguyen called for Hancock’s resignation as a board member, which she did again at the board meeting on March 9.

“I am asking for [Hancock]’s resignation by this Friday,” Nguyen said, in her statement to the board.

Another figure calling for Hancock’s resignation is Wall, who interviewed several unnamed district staff members to collect the data for most of the allegations against him.

The allegations toward Hancock range from sexual harassment to purposeful intimidation of teachers within the district. Although these accusations are serious, a neutral party has not verified any concrete evidence of the allegations.

Some patrons are skeptical as to the validity of these accusations, such as Bob Dyke, who also addressed the board during patron input.

“I cannot speculate on hearsay, but I appreciate the board members serving their community the way they have,” Dyke said.

Additionally, Dyke shared his skepticism of Dr. Sumner and Dr. Dain’s quick acceptance of job offers in the Olathe and Shawnee Mission School Districts, respectively.

Hancock denies his involvement in the resignation of both Dr. Sumner and Dr. Dain.

“I find that claim to be absurd. Dr. Sumner is a professional; he is extremely intelligent; he is extremely capable,” Hancock said. “If you want to know why Dr. Sumner is leaving, you need to ask Dr. Sumner. I’ve never asked him to leave, I’ve never suggested he leave. I’ve always had a good relationship with him, and I wish him the best.”

Dr. Sumner has not publicly commented on why he left USD 232 to take the position in Shawnee Mission, however, he did release a statement through the district.

“Words cannot properly express how privileged and honored I have been to work with the outstanding professionals and talented students who make USD 232 such an amazing place,” Dr. Sumner said. “De Soto USD 232 is a recognized leader in Kansas public education thanks to the tremendous effort of our teachers, students, support staff and communities. While it is hard to express in appropriate terms, it is important to me that my colleagues and our communities understand how much I have loved serving beside them.”

A common theme of the patron input at the board meeting was the importance of discussing the effects of these rumors, if they were true.

The major concern expressed by patrons was that “if these actions are not corrected, we will continue to hemorrhage quality people such as Dr. Sumner from this district,” according to Nguyen.

It is clear that some district patrons are opposed to Hancock remaining in office, as Nyguen has commented that if Hancock does not “step down with dignity, [she] will take formal measures to remove [him] from his post.”

However, it does not appear that Hancock will bend to these demands.

“I am going to continue to fulfill my obligation as a board member,” Hancock said.

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