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Critics argue Hamilton Southeastern Schools leader being forced out

Hamilton Southeastern Schools superintendent resigns

Editor’s note: Click here for an updated version of this story with the board accepting the resignation

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Hamilton Southeastern School Board has announced it will meet Wednesday morning to accept the resignation of Superintendent Yvonne Stokes.

The board for one of Indiana’s largest school districts was scheduled to accept Stokes’ resignation and separation agreement.

No information was immediately available on the reason for Stokes’ resignation.

Jaimie Cairns is an attorney and the parent of two Hamilton Southeastern students. She thinks Stokes was forced out of her position because there is an action item to accept the separation agreement on the agenda.

“There’s generally speaking no reason for you to get a separation agreement,” Cairns said. “I expect the separation agreement, which of course we haven’t seen yet, to give her some money and have an agreement in it that she won’t sue the school corporation, and I think if those two things are included in the separation agreement, that tells us that this isn’t her quitting the job.”

Stokes was an assistant superintendent at Munster schools before she joined the Fishers-based school district in April 2021. She previously worked as the director of research, assessment and evaluation at Indianapolis Public Schools. She has a doctorate in educational leadership from Purdue University.

Cairns believes people had preconceived notions about Stokes before she was named to the position. “There was too much drama in HSE since 2021 for her to have any chance of being liked or not liked or for her to do anything,” the attorney told News 8 on Tuesday.

Stokes was confirmed in a 5-2 vote in 2021. At the time of her hiring, more than a dozen people protested outside of the administration center on Cumberland Road holding signs that said, “Education not indoctrination,” “Qualifications matter | Vote No!” and “HSE Board stop attacking our children.”

Stokes replaced Superintendent Allen Bourff, who retired at the end of the 2020-21 school year. Members of the community had launched a petition calling on Bourff to resign after he sent a letter to faculty in February 2021 detailing how to treat the Black Lives Matter movement in classrooms.

Also during Wednesday morning’s meeting, the board was poised to name Matt Kegley, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, as the leader of the district. He will receive a new contract, the meeting agenda says.

The online agenda for the 7 a.m. meeting says it will be livestreamed. A Facebook event shared by the school district said the meeting will be in the board room of Hamilton Southeastern Schools Central Office at 13485 Cumberland Road.