PRINEVILLE, Ore. - (Updated with added comment from Yecha)
Crooked River Elementary Principal Cheri Rasmussen, placed on paid administrative leave last month after an alleged harassment incident involving a first-grader, will return to her job on Thursday, following an internal investigation to determine if there was any violation of school district policies, officials announced Wednesday.
The internal investigation of Rasmussen had continued after Crook County District Attorney Daina Vitolins, with an outside review by another DA, determined no criminal charges were warranted in the matter.
The following statement was posted to the Crook County School District’s Facebook page Wednesday afternoon, two days after a school board meeting drew close to 100 parents and others praising and defending Rasmussen and urging her return to duties:
“Principals play a critical role in our community and it is appropriate to have high expectations for those individuals. At the same time, it is equally important for our schools to function as they should, to have open lines of communication between administration and staff, and between the administration, the parents, and the community without worry or concern for retaliation or retribution.
“Public education is regulated by state and federal laws and administrative rules, and there are times when a statute or rule comes into question requiring an investigation. Simply because an investigation is instituted is by no means an indictment against those involved in the process. And it can be an effective means of reaffirming our individual and collective commitment to providing our kids and our community with the best education. The district is committed to conducting such investigations in a fair and thorough manner, which can be a time consuming process.
“The information provided to the District in this matter was reviewed in the context of law and policy regarding student restraint and privacy, and we have determined that Cheri should and will return to her position as Principal of Crooked River Elementary School on Thursday, May 11, 2017.
A comment by Rasmussen also was included in the announcement:
“I appreciate and respect the fact that we must always be cognizant of the district's rules and policies, as well as the Oregon statutes and administrative rules that govern our teachers and our principals.
“Clearly, there are often better ways to do something. We are all lifelong learners and sometimes it takes a process like this to remind ourselves of our commitments to the system and to each other. My commitment is, as always, to be, in the eyes of my colleagues, the administration, and the kids, an outstanding principal, and I will strive to continue to improve as a leader in our educational community.”
The district said questions may be directed to Superintendent Duane Yecha at 541-447-5664.
Asked if the internal investigation had cleared Rasmussen, Yecha told NewsChannel 21 by email, “I cannot discuss confidential personnel information, but I can tell you that we are comfortable with Cheri coming back and look forward to a positive and productive end to the school year. “