(UPDATED, 11:51 a.m., 1.18.2018, with follow-up information from Wednesday’s school board meeting).
Longtime educator Clete Edmunson said New Plymouth’s school board voted to place him on paid administrative leave Wednesday, pending further investigation.
“I’ve been advised just to wait for the school board to make their investigation and comply with whatever they need and wait for them to come up with a recommendation to the board,” Edmunson said Thursday.
Wednesday night’s board meeting was the latest development in a contentious week in the New Plymouth School District. It started Tuesday, when Superintendent Kevin Barker said Edmunson suddenly and voluntarily resigned his position as New Plymouth High’s principal.
The following day, Wednesday, Edmunson told Idaho Education News he was pressured into resigning and officially rescinded the letter of resignation that he submitted Tuesday.
In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Edmunson said that he worked a normal day Tuesday, and then was surprised to be called into the office by Barker and an attorney. Edmunson said Barker forced him to pick between “two unpleasant options.”
Edmunson said he wasn’t given time to think and chose to resign.
“I knew right away that me resigning was not in my best interest or the best interest of the school or the best interest of the kids.”
In a prior interview Tuesday, Barker said Edmunson resigned suddenly and voluntarily after citing a desire to pursue other interests.
Edmunson characterized his actions Tuesday as “a forced resignation.”
Edmunson told Idaho Education News he gave Barker and the school board a new letter on Wednesday rescinding his letter of resignation.
Edmunson isn’t sure what happens next.
“I’m just going to stay home until I hear from the school board,” he said. “There is a lot going on.”
On Wednesday morning, several people sent Idaho EdNews videos that show New Plymouth students walking out of class, staging a demonstration and chanting Edmunson’s name.
Edmunson described the situation in New Plymouth as the town being “in an uproar.”
“I’m super proud of them. They stood up and fought for me,” Edmunson said. “It made me feel good.”
Edmunson first started teaching and coaching in New Plymouth in 1994. He served in the Idaho Legislature from 2003-2008 and went on to become a special adviser to Gov. Butch Otter.
After his political career, Edmunson returned to education. He had served as New Plymouth High’s principal since 2015.