On Monday, more than 50 Spencer County teachers joined together at a school board meeting to voice their frustrations and disapproval of the job being done by the superintendent of the South Spencer School Corporation, Dr. Richard Rutherford.
An unfair labor practice was filed earlier this year by the teachers association on three counts against the superintendent. Failure to bargain, failure to discuss, and coercion and intimidation of employees, with those complaints coming on top of a series of job cuts.
“Our major concern has been the amount of teaching positions that we’ve been losing," said Veronica Hobbs, representative of the Indiana State Teachers Association. "Ya know, we lost eight in the high school, then we’re going to lose three more through attrition this year that they’re not going to replace, and there’s money that we have at our disposal that could keep teachers employed and keep class sizes smaller.”
The teachers planned to keep their frustrations private, but a social media post of personal support for the current superintendent made by a South Spencer School Board member caused the teachers to come together on Monday and act so the community would know the issues impacting students and teachers.
But the school board member stood by his social media posts.
“All I wanted to do with the post was show my support, and also to get the community involved, in regards to show their support for a great guy who’s doing the right thing," said Matt Bunner, South Spencer School Board member.
In the Teachers Association's complaint of unfair practice, they allege Superintendent Rutherford has unfairly criticized the association's President Pam Wilkinson and failed to secure funds from the Teacher Appreciation Grant, instead using general funds to replace the money Rutherford failed to apply for after claiming the Teacher Appreciation funds had been received.
The association also claims Rutherford has stated “you are either on team Rutherford, or you are against it.”
“Most of my superintendents, and I do represent 15 superintendents, and teachers units, they’re transparent," said Hobbs. "Even if we don’t agree, they tell me the truth. I feel like they’re telling me the truth, and I don’t think that I have that transparency here.”
The complaint of unfair practice made against Superintendent Rutherford will be spoken about next week, with the next school board meeting to discuss the superintendent's upcoming contract renewal scheduled for next month.