Stewart school board explains actions

STEWART – The Stewart school board, finally breaking a long silence regarding the firing of one of its English teachers this fall, released a detailed explanation of its actions in the case Wednesday.

The board in discharging Mary Vollmar for allowing one of her students to read a questionable book, has until now remained silent and refused to answer questions of newsmen concerning the case. School officials also have declined comment.

In the release published by the Stewart Tribune in today’s edition, the board lists the various reasons it handled the case the way it did and attempted to explain its purpose in discharging Miss Vollmar.

Following is the story the way it appeared in the Tribune:

“A joint press release prepared by the two attorneys was to have been the final word on the matter, but releases to the news media by Miss Vollmar stating only her views on the issue has made it necessary for the school board to clarify their position.

“Minnesota statutes outline the procedure for dismissal of a teacher and these guidelines were followed. As the law states Miss Vollmar was suspended pending a hearing by the board, this hearing to be open or closed according to her wishes.”The board took this action only after an entire month of studying the matter during which time all of the members read the book “Hell House” entirely or in part and decided it was not proper material for assignment in our school.

“Shortly after the school board and administrators had given their depositions, the attorney for the board and Miss Vollmar’s attorney talked about a possible settlement. This was not acted upon until after Miss Vollmar’s deposition was taken and it became known that the MEA, MFT and MCLU were ready to finance her legal battle all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

“A decision to settle on her resignation seemed most prudent when costs to the district taxpayers were considered.

“Miss Vollmar was asked twice to resign two years ago under similar circumstances, but refused. She met with the board and was asked to remove her personal library from her classroom.

“In a small town such as Stewart, the effectiveness of a teacher is lost when their private life is contrary to the standards set by the community. Miss Vollmar seemed to generate a great deal of controversy that could not be completely overlooked. Miss Vollmar claims to be a good teacher and is well informed.

“Dispositions show that the student was handed the book by Miss Vollmar with a recommendation to read it. If Miss Vollmar had not read the book, why then recommend it over another book?

“Miss Vollmar states in the New Ulm paper “the board did not want this to come out in the open.“”The board had nothing to hide, but did not enter into any controversy on this or any other issue because it felt it would do the case harm, as well as give the opposition a chance to accuse the board of trying the case in the news-paper and other news media ahead of time.

“During the time that this proceeding has been taking place, the school administrators, office staff and some of the board members have taken both verbal and written abuse from some of the news people.

“An article from the MEA quoted the board release prior to the time the board had approved or even prepared the joint news release.

“Miss Vollmar is quoted in the New Ulm Journal of December 4, 1973 as not getting her book back, because the board was reading it. Earlier she had claimed it was not her book.

“At this time, the book is in the hands of the board attorney, and may be picked up by the owner.”This board does not wish to force a set of moral codes on the students of this district. They do feel, that the students and community deserve some-thing better than the type of trash found in “Hell House.”

“Books of this nature should not even be available in the school for students. We have a librarian that we can thank for keeping the library free of this junk.

“We believe that the teaching of certain basic morals to the upcoming generations and the upholding of these morals is the duty of the present adult generation, and is necessary to a well-ordered, lawful and free society.”

New Ulm Daily Journal,

Dec. 13, 1973


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