3 Harney County school officials resign from positions

Students arrive at the Hines Middle School after Harney County School District reopened it's doors Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, in Hines, Ore. The armed takeover of Oregon wildlife refuge forced area schools to close for the week. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The superintendent of Harney County School District No. 3, and two school principals submitted letters of resignation this week, as a group of armed protesters continue to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the southeastern part of the county.

Superintendent Marilyn McBride submitted her letter of resignation to the school board on Saturday, Jan. 9. McBride wrote two sentences: "On Friday afternoon, January 8, 2016, Lori Cheek requested I submit my resignation notice to the board allowing the board to have time for planning. My resignation is effective June 30, 2016." Cheek is the chair of the Harney County School Board. It is unclear if McBride's resignation has anything to do with the occupation at the wildlife refuge.

Two days later, on Jan. 11, Hines Middle School Principal Jerry Mayes submitted his letter of resignation to McBride. It is effective when his contract ends in June.

Mayes wrote in his letter, "I regret that this letter will reach you and the board during a time of community distress and upheaval. But I want to reiterate that the events that this district and community are currently experiencing have in no discernible way had an influence on my decision to tenure my resignation. Our staff and students are among the best anywhere. And I am confident that this community will come through these events even stronger to support our schools, students, and educational goals. And I am proud to have been a member of this educational partnership."

And on Jan. 12, Burns High School Principal Brandon Yates submitted his letter of resignation to McBride. He writes, "It is with mixed feelings that I submit this letter of resignation, effective at the end of my contract for the 2015/2016 school year."

Yates also said in the letter he's interested in pursuing an administrative position in a larger school, and that he wants to move closer to his mother to help care for her.

Harney County School District Executive Assistant Muriel Wenick tells KATU News the Harney County School Board accepted the resignations at its meeting Tuesday night. A call to board Chair Lori Cheek was not returned.

Students in Harney County returned to school on Monday, Jan. 11 after schools had been closed the week before because of the occupation at the wildlife refuge.

The resignations come the same week Harney County Fire Chief Chris Briels submitted his resignation, siding with the protesters at the wildlife refuge. The County Court, similar to a County Commission, will vote on his resignation at its next meeting on Jan. 20.

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