Outrage at DeKalb after show choir director removed

Local News

AUBURN, Ind. (WANE) DeKalb High School announced Wednesday it was moving in a new direction with the extracurricular positions of Show Choir and Theatre Director for the 2018/2019 school year. Several students and former students have expressed their strong disapproval of the decision.

Shelley Johnson, who served as DeKalb’s director of Choral Music and Music Department chair, has reportedly been reassigned to teach music at Waterloo and J.R. Watson elementary schools, within the DeKalb Central school district. The district said in a news released Wednesday that the change was a result of a “lack of institutional control over the program and failure to follow school policies and directives.”

No further explanation was offered. Multiple requests for interviews were denied by the district.

“DeKalb Central has already sent a press release on this topic,” a district spokesperson replied. “Please refer to that, and thank you for your understanding. Her extracurricular positions are yearly positions and are not being renewed for next year. She will still have a teaching position though.”

Here is the release from DeKalb Central Schools:

“DeKalb Central Schools understands and appreciates the importance of show choir and all other programs that offer students a broad range of opportunities. These opportunities will continue into the future. The administration of DeKalb High School has decided to move in a new direction with the extracurricular positions of Show Choir and Theatre Director for the 2018/2019 school year. A new individual will be recommended to the School Board for consideration. DeKalb Central Schools has a wide range of successful extracurricular and co-curricular programs. The expectation of the Choir and Theatre program will be to operate with the highest level of professionalism, character and safety at all times. Best practices for the operation of the program shall be implemented with regard to the care, development and growth of the student participants. DeKalb Central looks forward to receiving a recommendation for this position in the future and for many more years of continued success. The change in leadership was a result of lack of institutional control over the program and failure to follow school policies and directives. The best interests of the student participants shall be served by the change in leadership and was the primary factor when considering the change.”

Johnson first joined the DeKalb system in 1983, according to the school’s website.

“I hope that whatever comes next for Dekalb High School is what [administration] hopes it is,” student Austin Osterhout said. “I hope it is successful, and they do move forward, but I hope they know what a loss they’ve brought to Dekalb.”

Dozens of parents, teacher and alumni plan to go to next week’s School Board meeting to get more answers.

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