Another week, another school superintendent fired over enforcing mask mandates in public schools. In the rural Adrian School District in Oregon, the school board fired its superintendent of the past three years, Kevin Purnell, by a 4-1 vote.
As Oregon Live reported, Purnell was fired one week into the fall 2021 semester in a special meeting. The vote took “less than half an hour,” the news outlet said. Purnell had worked in the district for fourteen years.
The board did not explain its decisions, but both Purnell’s critics and supporters pointed to his enforcement of the state-imposed mask mandate in schools. Board Chair Eddie Kincade said that Purnell failed to follow the board’s directives, which contributed to his firing. None of the board members issued a comment with their vote, meaning that the public does not know the reasons behind Purnell’s termination.
Purnell spoke to the crowd and admitted, “Ultimately, I feel that I have lost my way, and it began to consume me,” Purnell said, “I have become tired. Tired of disappointing myself, my family, my friends, my colleagues.”
County taxpayers will pay $52,500 to Purnell, plus the costs of health insurance which were owed to Purnell according to his contract in the next six months.
The school board did not name an interim superintendent to replace Purnell, who had spent 37 years as a teacher and had been an education administrator for 19 years.
The school district is located in Malheur County, located in southeastern Oregon along the Oregon-Idaho border. The city of Adrian’s population numbered 157 residents in the latest census, a drop of 11% from the decade before, which underscores the rural-urban divide on mask mandates. The county’s coronavirus cases have risen in recent months, but the county’s residents bristled at the state government’s mask mandate. Purnell previously opposed Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s mask mandate, but would follow the rules.
Purnell’s opposition to mask mandates were echoed by two other school superintendents in the state. But, like Purnell, their school districts in Nysaa and Vale complied with Gov. Brown’s mask mandate that everyone inside a school bearing must wear a mask.
Oregon’s schools chief Colt Gill, called it a “shared priority to reliably return students to full-time, in-person school this year.” Gill acknowledged resistance to the mask mandate, but added, “With personal freedom comes responsibility, not only for ourselves, but for our neighbors.”
Entrenched education bureaucrats and politicians cite science and data behind mask mandates, without acknowledging it is imperfect science and that studies contradict one another on the efficacy of mask-wearing. Parents have seen through this “pro-science” façade from the Left and rebelled, and in the end, Adrian School District’s parents booted a superintendent who they felt did not represent their best interests.