DURANT, Iowa — Monica Rouse will be fully restored as the sole principal of Durant High School, the school board decided Monday night in a session that was closed to the public.

High school co-principal Tony Neumann has agreed to give up his position in order to jointly administer the district’s K-8 program with Rebecca Stineman, the board said.

Board members did not comment after Monday’s meeting. Instead, Rand Wonio of the Davenport law firm of Lane & Waterman, which represents the school board, read a statement from the board to media representatives waiting outside the superintendent’s office.

“The board has only acted in what it considered the best interests of the students, faculty and staff,” the statement read.

Wonio and Superintendent Duane Bennett declined to comment on the case.

The board’s statement did not say when Rouse will be reinstated. But Rouse’s attorney, Cathy Cartee, said she received an email earlier Monday from Wonio saying Rouse will move into the principal’s office today.

“Maybe now they finally get it,” Cartee said of Monday night’s decision.

Cartee wasn’t ready to celebrate, yet, she said. “In view of the history of this board, we will take their word at face value. However, we cannot feel confident, in view of the fact that they have blatantly ignored each and every court order as it was issued.”

Bennett has directed Rouse and other faculty and staff not to talk to the media.

The three-year legal battle began when Rouse was escorted off school grounds Sept. 17, 2009, by then-Superintendent Duane Bark. The board voted to fire Rouse in March 2010, claiming several counts of wrongdoing.

She appealed her termination to the Iowa Supreme Court and won earlier this year, returning to work April 23. Meanwhile, Neumann was hired as high school principal in 2011 while the school board was appealing a district court’s decision to reinstate Rouse.

The high school of 250 students has had two principals for several months. The combined annual salaries of the two principals cost the district $155,000.

But while Neumann worked in the principal’s office, Rouse has been working out of an empty storage room. She has been given significantly fewer duties and little to no access to student records, to her old computer or to the entire high school facility, according to a contempt of court order she filed in the spring.

On Friday, Cedar County District Court Judge Mark Smith ruled that the school board violated a court order, and he gave board members the following ultimatum: Return Rouse to full principal or go to jail. Smith also ordered the board and the school district pay $12,000 in attorney fees.

Rouse has a libel lawsuit still pending against the school board and seeks damages of an undetermined value. Cartee said news releases issued by the school board have contained false statements about Rouse and have made it impossible for her to get hired in other school districts.

(14) comments


wildcat11 is exactly right! It wasn't until they were threatened with jail time that they decided to have " the best interest of the students" in mind.


“The board has only acted in what it considered the best interests of the students, faculty and staff,” the statement read.

WHATEVER!! I bet they are acting in the best interests of the students, faculty and staff - TRUTH IS... they don't want to go to jail! I'm willing to guess they will not "work" with her and they will "set her up" to fail. Thats how they tend to roll.

hello out there

Durant i am so embarrassed for you. The whole board should be fired and a new one put in place. You have taught your children well. when a judge says you are guilty, you are not, just pretend you didn't hear.


Do you really think school boards make decisions without serious recommendations from their superintendents and LEGAL COUNSEL?? Did you notice the legal representative from Lane & Waterman has changed from Davidson to Wanio? School boards make decisions based on advice from legal counselor, fact finding from supers/administrators and from board policy. Legal counsel changed, super left, all that is left is policy. So - they must have messed up somewhere. If YOU could do better, then run for the thankless job of board member. See how easy it is to keep people happy who don't know what the dickens they are talking about.


That argument would be much more persuasive had the board ignored not one but multiple court orders.

I have served on a school board, and yes the board receives recommendations from its superintendent (who is employed by the board, not the other way around) as well as legal counsel. At some point, it is the board's responsibility to recognize that its superintendent has lied to it and its legal counsel is incompetent, or money hungry.

Board policy is just that, policy approved by the board. I doubt it covers stupidity.


Hard to believe how stubborn this school board has been through all this.

Monica placed on administrative leave - 9/17/09


Monica wins appeal from Administrative Law Judge Larry Bartlett -3/12/10


Durant School Board upholds firing of Rouse - 3/30/10


Superintendent Duane Bark takes job in Wisconsin - 2/25/11


Monica wins wrongful termination lawsuit in Cedar County District Court - 3/11/11


Durant district defies decision of Cedar County District Court - 3/23/11


Monica files to have school district held in contempt - 3/29/11


School district appeals to Iowa Supreme Court - 5/27/11


Iowa Supreme Court turns down school district petition seeking review - 6/8/11


Iowa Court of Appeals rules Monica Rouse should get her job back - 1/19/12


Durant Community School District takes case to Iowa Supreme Court, again - 2/10/12


Iowa Supreme Court turns down school district, again - 4/11/12


Monica allowed to return to work - 4/20/12


Judge threatens school board with jail/fine for contempt - 9/28/12


High school will have one principal again - 10/2/12



The co-principal should be going back to teaching. They need teachers. They don't need to add a "co-administrator." Tony Neumann doesn't give a rat's behind about the school or the students either, apparently.


This board is mean spirited and not very smart but they didn't want to go to jail for their stupidity. I am also sure they will try something else to get rid of her I am also sure that attorney Cartee is aware that the fight is not over. They will be back in court and it will cost the citizens of that community more money. It is time for them to take their losses and move on, so the community can heal. They have cause enough damage to this community and Ms Rouse.


Guess they didnt think it was worth spending 30 days in jail. Hmmm thousands of educational dollars yes, jail for them personally no. I feel they were already guilty of contempt and should not of been given a way to get out of there sentence. But I hope they have learned a lesson from all of this and will do the right thing from here on.


Again, a correction:
The QCT said, "She appealed her termination to the Iowa Supreme Court . . ."

Ms Rouse appealed the termination to the district court, which ruled in her favor. All the rest of the appeals were initiated by the board, as each successive ruling continued to affirm the district court's ruling. While one should not begrudge the district the right to seek all legal avenues to settle this matter, one should question their judgement when the first two rulings (the adm. law judge and the district judge) left no ambiguity in their rulings and even went on record praising Rouse. For that, the board did a disservice to community. Each succesive legal battle only served to deepen the divide and hurt within the community; and probably added tens of thousands, if not hundreds (dare we say million), of dollars to the final costs.


Agreed Bailaw... the superintendant will have something/anything for formal charges of dismissal within three months. Ill bet you a buffalo head nickle.


Oh, children, this isn't over. Phase one maybe.


So glad this is over, I wonder what the school districts final cost will be? How many more teachers could this school district hired at the same cost?


Sure would liked to have been a fly on the wall in THAT meeting. I hope this ends this whole sad saga and that school district can get back to the business of education.

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