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Dysart Unified superintendent resigns, parents question sudden exit

In a 3-2 vote, the school board accepted Dr. Quinn Kellis' resignation on Wednesday, despite many objections from community members urging the board to keep Kellis.

PHOENIX — The Dysart Unified School District is investigating how news of Superintendent Quinn Kellis' resignation was leaked to the public amidst an outcry from confused citizens who are questioning the reasoning behind Kellis' departure. 

In a 3-2 vote Wednesday night, Dysart's Governing Board voted to accept Kellis' resignation despite a crowd of community members urging the board to keep the superintendent. 

Board members Traci Sawyer-Sinkbeil and Jo Grant voted not to accept the resignation, finding it was "wrong" to remove Kellis at a time when he only had one year left on his contract. 

In a letter sent out to Dysart families, the district said Assistant Superintendent Jim Dean would replace Kellis until a permanent replacement is chosen by the school board. 

News of Kellis' exit attracted a large group of citizens to Wednesday's meeting and the school board wants to know how the resignation was made public before the meeting's agenda was published. 

The district said Thursday that discussions of Kellis' resignation were held privately in executive sessions between board members and these discussions may have been leaked in violation of Arizona's open meetings law.  

Regardless of how the news was released, some parents feel dismayed and shocked over the loss of a superintendent they believe contributed greatly to the district. 

Some parents and teachers accused board members of playing politics to force Kellis out of Dysart Unified.  

"This has nothing to do with Dr. Kellis' performance or his accomplishments," one parent told the board. "This has to do with three rogue board members who have been trying to gain power and control of this district."

Many community members felt confused by Kellis' sudden departure and questioned how his exit might affect the school district's future. 

"Today is a sad day. It feels like we're attending a funeral. We're worried about what's happening to our district," another parent told the board Wednesday night.

A 2021 parents survey found that 85-86% of respondents approved of Kellis' leadership as superintendent. 

Earlier this month, the city of Suprise presented Kellis with a proclamation in recognition of his contributions to the community. 

RELATED: Dysart Unified School District set to be fully staffed with bus drivers as districts around Arizona struggle to hire

RELATED: Arizona revises rules to get more substitute teachers into empty classrooms

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