After an hour-long executive session, the Lone Grove Board of Education unanimously voted to hire Kimberly Ruble as a high school/middle school teacher and speech/debate coach.


After an hour-long executive session, the Lone Grove Board of Education unanimously voted to hire Kimberly Ruble as a high school/middle school teacher and speech/debate coach.

 

The hire was made because school officials decided to reassign Brian Gunter to teach at the middle school earlier this month.

 

Gunter coached the Lone Grove team for 10 years, winning seven consecutive state championships and sending several students to national competition.

 

Supporters of Gunter filled the high school media center just as they did at the June 14 board meeting.

 

Once the meeting adjourned, audience members began to question the board’s decision, but board members and administrators said they couldn’t go into details because it was a personnel matter.

 

However, board president Richard Cox did say “Gunter knows what’s going on.”

 

Gunter, not surprised by the board’s decision, said after the meeting he wasn’t so sure.

 

“I was told I was noncompliant, but there is nothing to support that,” Gunter said.

 

He also added his own opinion on what he thought the issue is.

 

“I think it is a personal issue, a very personal issue,” Gunter said.

 

Gunter said he didn’t know what he would do next now that he has been assigned to the middle school.

 

“It can be difficult for the next person, but the lady they hired knows what she’s doing,” Gunter said.

 

Supporters of Gunter expressed frustration but not surprise at the board’s decision to hire someone else.
“I like to think the best of everybody, but I do think this is a decision that hasn’t been thought through as well as it should be thought through,” said Fred Collins, a local attorney who assists with the team.

 

Candace Berry transfers her children into Lone Grove High School because of the arts programs.

 

“To us, the plus of the school was having Mr. Gunter there for our kids and prepare them for college,” Berry said.

 

Her oldest son, Cruise, is autistic and gained important skills through the speech program.

 

“I’m now a piano performance major. The stage presence I learned carried over,” said Cruise, a 2008 graduate of Lone Grove. “I was really introverted and quiet, but now I have a $45,000 a year scholarship.”

 

She also has younger children who attend Zaneis and had planned to send them to Lone Grove for high school.

 

“My kids are not into sports, so it is important to go to a school where the arts are appreciated,” Berry said.

 

However, she said her views have changed with the board’s decision to reassign Gunter.

 

“I think the administrators don’t appreciate the arts or don’t understand the significance of them,” Berry said.

 

Current students also said they were considering transferring. Wyatt Freeman, who recently competed at the national speech competition, will be a junior in the fall.

 

“I live in the Lone Grove district, but I’m thinking of transferring,” Freeman said.

 

No matter what he decides, Freeman said he plans to continue competing and maintain his connection to Gunter.

 

“He is just a phone call away. Mr. Gunter will always be my coach,” Freeman said.

 

Jennifer Lindsey, 221-6536