School board deflects queries about Kiona-Benton City High principal's departure

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldApril 16, 2014 

Wayne Barrett

BENTON CITY -- The status of Kiona-Benton City High School's principal, who was placed on paid leave weeks ago, remains in flux.

School board members declined to answer questions from the public this week during a meeting about whether Wayne Barrett was offered a buyout of his contract or whether a district investigation is finished.

When one attendee accused the board of a lack of transparency for not commenting, board Chairman Tim Cook said the district cannot comment on personnel matters until they are concluded.

Cook added that any rumors about a buyout or the conclusion of the investigation are just rumors.

"There is no comment because it's not true," Cook said.

Barrett had been at Ki-Be High since 2007. The district has never said why Barrett was removed from the school in late February.

Barrett's leave isn't related to any matter involving a student or former student, Superintendent Wade Haun has said, nor a criminal investigation. But Haun has declined to comment when asked if Barrett's leave is related to a staff complaint.

Also Monday night, parents and grandparents of kindergartners said they were alarmed recently to learn that their students won't get to have a graduation ceremony.

The district has a collection of kid-sized graduation caps and gowns that were used as recently as last year for the district's youngest elementary students. But administrators recently told parents the ceremony isn't possible this year because of time constraints from testing, parents said.

"My son is right there, you tell him he doesn't get to have a graduation," one parent told the board.

Summer Smith, who has a grandchild in kindergarten, said there's a broader reason to have the graduation ceremony -- it's an opportunity to have a positive story come out of the community after months of bad press.

"It will let the Tri-Cities know that we aren't all crackheads and idiots out here," Smith said.

Board members said they would look into the issue.

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