June 25, 2021

Clarke students protest board approval of new superintendent

Alan Dykens, Lamoni Community School Principal chosen to be the new Clarke Superintendent

Student chants’ could be heard from the Clarke Community High School football field Friday as nearly half of the high school and middle school students descended upon the turf at 8:50 a.m. in protest of the School Board’s decision to choose Alan Dykens as the next Clarke Superintendent.

In closed session April 29 the Clarke Community School Board approved Dykens against the wishes of the community hiring committees. Board member MacKenzie O’Hair declined to comment about the board’s action. Other board members were unavailable for comment. Multiple attempts were made to contact Board President Dena White, she remained unavailable for comment.

“Our school had six separate interviews with four different candidates for our new superintendent. The School Board made their decision and it was not who the community had wanted after interviews with the candidates,” said Garrett Diehl, Clarke Community High School student. “My fellow classmates and I are trying to get as much attention towards this cause as possible.”

Diehl was a member of the student committee during the interview process.

The six committees were made up of groups of eight individuals representing students, support staff, teachers, administration, community members and student ambassadors. Five of the six committees voted for a candidate other that Dykens. Students felt that their voices and the voices of other committee members were not listened to by the Board.

Students showed their knowledge in their constitutional rights by peacefully protesting during their second period class. Chants including “Our voices deserve to be heard,” “Student voices matter” and “Bye bye Alan.” ricochetted off the school as students marched from the football field up to the administration building around 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Many teachers and staff members were present at the demonstration.

Mayor Thomas Kedley, a Clarke High/Middle School Success Coach, spoke on the issue at the Osceola City Council meeting Tuesday night. Kedley was a member of the teacher committee during the interview process.

“I decided that as the leader of the community I would be remise not to mention what’s been going on in the community in regards to the school. There’s been unrest amongst the stake holders in the process in which the superintendent was hired. I would urge the citizens of Osceola to exercise their constitutional right to reach out to their school board officials to make sure their voices are heard...” said Kedley. “They’re up there to represent you. That’s their job. They work for you so make sure your voices are heard in that manner and I hope it comes to a peaceful resolution.”

Students planned the protest via Snapchat sending messages stating the protest is because they need a superintendent “who’s going to do good for the school and have student and staff’s best interests at heart.” Students were careful to keep the protest at the maximum length of one class period in order for student athletes to be able to participate in upcoming events.

As students left the football field Activity Director Randy Bolton thanked them over the stadium speakers for exercising their right to peacefully protest.

The Clarke Community School Board has another closed session meeting Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Clarke Community School Board members can be reached at https://www.clarke.k12.ia.us/board-of-education--423.

Tyra Audlehelm

I grew up in Osceola and live here still with my husband and son. I graduated with my Bachelor degree in Journalism and Mass Communications in 2017. I have work at the OST since January of 2018.