Mid-Prairie Superintendent Could Possibly Resign

WELLMAN, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Following a decision to let a convicted sex offender serve as a school volunteer, Mid-Prairie Superintendent Mark Schneider called for a vote of confidence during a special school board meeting, Saturday.

Minutes from the meeting show the superintendent said in a statement he would resign if the board returned a vote of “no confidence” during the May 14th Mid-Prairie School Board meeting.

“A decision I made in 2015 concerning the volunteer status of Trent Yoder has greatly divided the Mid-Prairie community,” read the statement. “For this I apologize. While I have enjoyed my 30-year career as a Mid-Prairie Teacher, Elementary Principal, and Superintendent, in order for me to help work toward a resolution to this issue and the other important issues facing this district, I need the support of the school board, school staff, parents and community.”

Schneider went on to say he would immediately submit his resignation, effective June 30, 2018, if he lacked the board’s support.

“While I am not quite ready for retirement, I will leave with no hard feelings,” said Schneider. “Looking forward to having more time to properly spoil my grandchildren.”

The volunteer at the heart of the situation, Trent Yoder, videotaped a high school athlete changing her clothes in 1998. School district officials said Yoder took an Alford Plea following a charge of sexual exploitation of a child.

The district said a judge sentenced Yoder to 10 years in prison, but after six weeks, Yoder was brought back before a judge and had the sentence reduced to time served. Yoder was then placed on four years of probation. He was on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry for 10 years.

Superintendent Schneider said in a statement to I9, Friday, because of his carpentry experience, Yoder has worked on the last four high school plays under the condition another adult also be present.

Schneider said Yoder, who is also a parent of district students, first volunteered in the fall of 2014 at Kalona Elementary but was told he no longer could after failing a background check.

Schneider then changed his mind in 2015. His Friday statement went on to say he found Yoder to be remorseful for his actions, that Yoder had connections to the community and letters of support.

“I approved his application to be a volunteer in the district in April 2015 contingent on one requirement: that he perform any volunteer activities in the presence of another adult,” said Schneider’s statement, Friday. “To my knowledge, he has complied with the requirement for another adult to be present.“

During Saturday’s special board meeting, minutes also show Yoder was allowed to make a statement of his own. In it, he formally announced he would not volunteer in any school events for the remainder of the school year.

The school board then went on to review district policies for volunteering and considered appointing a committee to potentially review and develop new policies.

“It was noted that there needs to be expediency to this situation in a quick timeline,” read the minutes from Saturday’s meeting. “It was suggested prior to the start of the Fall School Year. Policies we have now are the policies that are in place through the remainder of this school year.”

Finally, the board discussed Yoder’s status as a volunteer. An unidentified board member recommended the school board and superintendent reserve the right to reinstate Mr. Yoder beyond the end of the school year.