The departure is not forced but occurs during an investigation, state officials say
The administrative building of the Boys State Training School is presented in 2017 in Eldora. (Liz Martin / The Gazette)
The principal of Boys State Training School in Eldora resigned last week as part of an investigation at the school.
Wendy Leiker, who was appointed to the post on August 28, 2020, was not asked to resign, but “offered her resignation during an investigation,” the spokesperson for the social services department said. of Iowa Matt Highland in a statement Thursday.
“While we are limited in the information we can share, we want to make it clear that his departure is not due to a concern for student safety,” Highland said. “DHS remains committed to the success of BSTS and the essential work of building services in accordance with the recovery plan. “
DHS director Kelly Garcia said in a meeting Thursday that she had appointed Jason Sodders, an assistant to Leiker, as the acting superintendent of the boarding school for delinquent boys aged 12 to 18.
Garcia told the Iowa Council on Human Services she couldn’t share many details about the investigation, but said Leiker’s departure had nothing to do with the reforms the school was required to make. do after losing a federal class action lawsuit in 2017 in which former students alleged abuse. .
In February, a court-appointed monitor said the school was making good progress on a 25-point catch-up plan.
Garcia said Leiker’s resignation was also unrelated to a “spike in campus violence,” but did not clarify.
The Des Moines Register reported last month that there had been an increase in assaults on students and staff as the school tried to move away from harsh discipline.
Garcia said she and other staff members visited the school this week to speak with staff and students.
“It was not on the regular schedule when we are normally there because we know that any change at the top is unsettling for our team members who want to make sure they feel supported during this time of year. transition, ”she said.
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Gazette reporter Rod Boshart contributed to this report.