Opinion: Reprimanding Reeds Spring school teacher Mike Collins equated a political obituary for Superintendent Angie Bessendorf and the entire school board. The near riotous mob of public support that attended the last Reeds Spring school board meeting was unprecedented. Attendance jumped from 25 in Feb. Meeting to several hundred due to the popularity of Collins. A meeting is scheduled for Collin's reinstatement in just three days. As of yesterday the meeting is still scheduled. It's likely that behind the scenes a large payoff to Collins was being negotiated before the statement on Terry's Highway 13 was submitted. Obviously, the offer was one Collins couldn't refuse. There's probably a large "shut up" clause where Collins will have to return a treasure chest in the event he admits a payoff was made. Until the document is inked Reed Springs has to keep the meeting scheduled and after the cash starts rolling in Collins won't be able to talk about the details. It can be assumed that Collins intends to sign the offer and made one last stand of free speech before Collins signs on the dotted line trading freedom of speech for freedom to spend. Collins official statement is posted below. If I'm wrong, we'll hear about Collin's retirement package though I personally doubt we will.
The following statement was received from Mr. Mike Collins on Wednesday, March 14, 2007, for publication on hwy-13.com. “On Jan. 26, 2007, I was suspended from my job as a biology and botany teacher with the Reeds Spring School District. The district charged me with immorality and violation of school board policies. My crime was using profanity while correcting students whom I believed were harassing and bullying other students. I was wrong to curse in front of these two students. I apologized to them, and I apologize to the community. “But for the district to charge me with immorality and seek my termination is over the top.
In an attempt to bolster its case, the district resurrected two other allegations from previous years that were mostly either false or greatly exaggerated, and for which I had already been disciplined. There was an allegation that I took responsibility for and again for which I was disciplined. “Last week I asked the Board of Education to allow me to return to my job with a dock in pay. It was very important to me to resume teaching and guide my students through the spring planting season, and the upcoming important testing period. I also asked the board to train its students and employees about bullying, which I believe is a significant problem in our school district. “The Board of Education refused to allow me to return to my job as part of any settlement. This saddens me because I will not be able to be back in the classroom to do what I love to do — teach and make a difference in the lives of my students and to make a difference in my community. “I believe that a majority of the board members have made up their minds to terminate me, before hearing the evidence and despite the large outpouring of support for me at the Feb. 21 board meeting and through petition drives. The Teacher Tenure Act gives me a right to a termination hearing, but this is a hearing in which the prosecutor and the judge are one and the same. To me, this is not due process. I also have to consider other people who might be called as witnesses in my hearing. I worry that they would suffer consequences if they testified on my behalf. “For these reasons, I am announcing my intent to retire to spend more time with my family, especially my new grandson, Jake Lucas, who was born on Jan. 23. “I want to thank all of the individuals who have supported me. Words cannot express my gratitude for the support that has been shown. I would like to especially thank all of my former and current students. I know you will make a difference in your community, county, state and beyond. That is already very evident. “Respectfully, Michael P. Collins.” Hwy-13.com could not confirm the location or current status of the March 19 special meeting of the school board that was scheduled to address the Collins issue, as it is spring break this week.