Fired Principal Returns To School

Friday, April 6th 2007, 4:00 pm
By: News On 6

A popular principal spends his first day on the job after being fired. The Hilldale school board voted 3-2 to dismiss Dwayne Pemberton on Saturday. The News On 6’s Joshua Brakhage went to Muskogee where the Hilldale principal was back in school on Friday. He reports Dewayne Pemberton got his job back after some legal wrangling.

Principal Dewayne Pemberton may have been fired early Saturday morning, but he's been on suspension since February. Friday was his first day back at school in nine weeks, all because of a restraining order, which puts the school board's decision to dismiss the 18-year-Hilldale veteran on hold.

When students walked in the doors Friday it was the first time in months they saw Principal Pemberton in the halls. One Hilldale parent, who has two children in the school, says his kids are excited for things to get back to normal.

"They were very astonished when the things went on, and they are very, very happy that he's back," he said.

"It's been really hectic,” said parent Becky Reard. “It's been really hard on the kids. Education wise I don't think much has happened, because there's been so much chaos, so Pemberton being back is a good thing."

Becky Reard is one of 400 Pemberton supporters who stayed until 3 a.m. Saturday to hear the reasons why Pemberton was being fired. Superintendent DB Merrill says the principal acted unprofessionally and played favorites. It's an unwritten rule at Hilldale that coaches drive their team's bus. Principal Pemberton says he stood behind the school's softball coach when she didn't feel safe enough to drive the bus. That coach just happened to be his future daughter-in-law.

"It was a joke. It was a circus, is what it was," Reard said. "You could tell it was very obvious that the board members' decisions were already made before we got through the meeting."

The sign out front on the principal's first day back urges "cautiousness," which is appropriate, because it's cautious optimism that Principal Pemberton is working from, since his return is only temporary. A judge will decide if he goes back to work for good in two weeks.

Related stories:

2/5/2007 Students Protest After Principal Suspended

2/7/2007 Student Protests Continue

2/9/2007 Suspended Principal Given Termination Papers

2/15/2007 Parents Rally Around Popular Principal

2/19/2007 Principal's Job Still In Limbo

2/22/2007 School Accused Of Violating Open Meeting Act

2/25/2007 Prosecutor Says School Board Didn't Violate The Law

3/2/2007 Hearing For Suspended School Principal Set

3/30/2007 School Board To Decide Principal's Job Status

3/31/2007 Hilldale Principal Fired, Parents Outraged

4/5/2007 - Fired Principal Back To Work