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WHITELAND, Ind – The Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation is calling for interested applicants to replace two school board members who abruptly resigned this month.

Board President Beth Poe and Vice President Laura Cope submitted resignation letters to CPCSC on Sept. 22. That was the day after a contentious school board meeting that was adjourned after only two minutes because several parents in the audience refused to wear masks. 

Poe and Cope had both served on the school board since 2019.

In her resignation letter, Poe stated that the move had nothing to do with the staff or administration at CPCSC, and she had been “honored to have a front row seat to how this school district has navigated a global pandemic while simultaneously being at the forefront of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our state.”

Poe’s letter states that she was stepping away from her elected position in order to protect her mental and physical health.

“After talking with my family and close friends for the past 24 hours, they have given me insight into how my most recent time on the board has impacted who I am as a person and my inability to have peace and joy in my life,” the letter said. “If the past two years have taught me anything, it is that life is precious and that time is short.”

“I am truly sorry for the hard decisions that will need to be made over the next two weeks by the remaining board members and will be available to provide any guidance or assistance that I can during this time,” Poe’s letter continued.

Cope’s letter also pointed out that her resignation is not related to any conflicts or frustrations with CPCSC administration, students or staff.

“The administration at CPCSC makes decisions based on what is right for students, and I stand by every decision that has been made by administration during my time on the board,” Cope’s letter said. “Unfortunately, other factors prevent me from completing my time on the board. I wish CPCSC continued success and will always be a supporter of this administration.”

Marilyn Martin, whose grandchildren attend Clark-Pleasant Schools, said she was disappointed the situation had reached this point

“If it’s affecting their mental health, then they’ve got to do the right thing for themselves and step away,” Martin said. “The board members are there to make a decision and if they all get together and decide what’s right for the kids go keep them safe, and that’s what everybody has to go with.”

“People are out of control right now with everything going on,” Martin continued. “They’re rude to one another.”

Shawn Butler was at the Sept. 21 meeting and was among those who refused to wear a mask.

“They’re going against our wishes and this is us voicing it,” Butler said. “If they’re doing it for their mental health, then they should definitely do what they need to do to take care of them. As a parent, I’m happy about it. It allows the community to go through and bring in fresh thoughts and fresh ideas.”

Terry Spradlin, executive director of the Indiana School Board Association, says this is a difficult time to be on a school board. Reports about tense and contentious meetings continue to come in from around the state, he said.

“Acts have risen to levels of threat and potential violence where people are being chased out to their cars,” Spradlin said. “We should never condone or tolerate threats of violence and we call for civility and respect, alongside with the passionate exchange of concerns and ideas.”

“We would say let’s find common ground in these uncommon times,” Spradlin added.

A statement from Clark-Pleasant Schools outlined the plan to fill the two vacancies left by the departures. Those interested in filing the seats can submit applications to the Clark-Pleasant School Board through Nov. 5. The three remaining school board members will interview interested candidates the week of Nov. 8. The two new chosen members will be sworn in on Nov. 16.

The two new members will serve on the school board through December 2022, and will be eligible for reelection in November 2022.