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Former administrators respond to critics, seek closure

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Dr. Nancy Sebring has been in the news a lot recently - much to her chagrin. The release of an email exchange between her and an (as yet) unidentified male companion has caused a great deal of turmoil for her, as well as speculation and questions of privacy related to the email exchange. In the hours following the release of the emails, Sebring resigned from a job in the Omaha Public Schools she wasn't contracted to begin for another month. According to OPS School Board president Freddie Gray, her premature departure from the Omaha Public Schools was not exclusively due to the sexually-explicit story told through email but rather that she violated the district's acceptable use policy.

An additional area of speculation in Sebring's case comes from her husband's handling of the news. In a press release issued earlier this week, both Sebring and her husband indicated they have been separated for close to seven years. Dr. Randy Sebring resides in Colorado and appears to have an amiable relationship with Nancy. Even with her (apparently former) husband's statement, the case is not quite closed. In the last 24 hours, Sebring has asked for an injunction to cease publication of more emails obtained from the Des Moines Public School District. The District has indicated it intends to release materials in accordance with open records requests until they are legally bound to cease such action.

In another case surfacing within the last week involving a Des Moines area school administrator, Dr. Matthew Wendt issued a statement related to his sudden departure from the Ankeny School District. Wendt, who served as superintendent for five years, recently accepted a "transition allowance" from the Ankeny School Board less than 24 hours before signing a new contract with the Oswego School District in Illinois. The district held its regular Board meeting this past Monday. In hopes of getting an explanation for his actions, district constituents were upset to find him absent from the meeting. In response, Wendt offered a statement explaining his decision. The statement offers a message of appreciation for his time with the district as well as a straightforward explanation of what transpired.

Whether a person is moving on or starting over, there will always be something left behind. For both Sebring and Wendt, who are now in two very different positions in terms of their careers, this is certainly the case. While Wendt is moving on to serve the Oswego School District, there are still questions about his actions and what effect they will have on hiring practices, contract stipulations, and benefit packages for future teachers and administrators in the Ankeny School District. For Nancy Sebring, who is in the unfortunate position of having to start over in many ways, the story remains without an ending for now. If there is anything that we can learn from both of these cases, it is that one person's actions and decisions never only impact the person making a choice. This is especially true for educators of all titles and tenures. Those of us in education know that we are in this profession to serve others, and that means modeling and leading with integrity in all we do.

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