Bethel school superintendent resigns, says he won’t sacrifice his dignity

Board member says it’s a “pity it has come to this;” district has had heated debate over transgender restroom access

BETHEL TWP., Miami County — The Bethel Local Schools Board of Education voted Friday to accept the resignation of Superintendent Justin Firks, who said in a letter that the sacrifices being required went beyond the expected parameters of the superintendent job.

“It has been a priority over the last seven years as a superintendent of schools to make decisions that are in the best interest of the students and staff,” Firks said in a letter dated Thursday. “Being a superintendent, historically, has been seen as a profession of SACRIFICE. However, sacrificing health, family, dignity and your professional reputation should NOT be a part of the job.”

Firks has been with the district three years and will leave at the end of his contract July 31, according to the board and the letter.

The district has been embroiled in a heated community debate over transgender restroom access in the schools for several months.

All five board members attended Friday’s emergency meeting to accept the resignation and to discuss the process of hiring an interim superintendent and conducting a longer search for the superintendent post.

Board member Danny Elam said he would accept the resignation with regrets. “Mr. Firks has done an outstanding job here in the last three years. It’s a pity that it has come to this, in my opinion,” Elam said. He and board President Lydda Mansfield voted “yes” to accept the resignation with both noting their regrets. The vote was unanimous.

Firks did not attend the meeting and was not available for comment Friday afternoon. His letter of resignation was obtained through a public records request.

The board also discussed options for finding a new superintendent. They agreed to contact with consultants K12 to first assist in the search for an interim superintendent beginning Aug. 1  and then assist with the search for the new longer-term superintendent. The goal would be to have the new superintendent hired later in the 2022-23 school year.

The board ended its meeting in a closed executive session to discuss compensation.

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