By Teresa Kay Albertson, Des Moines Register
Former Norwalk High School show choir teacher Gerard Krupke has resigned from his position after he allegedly used a racial epithet referring to a Black person twice in an online game in front of students.
Krupke’s resignation will be effective June 30, but he is on paid administrative leave until then, according to Norwalk Community School District Superintendent D.T. Magee. Krupke was still listed as a district employee on the district’s website Monday.
A video was posted to social media platforms on Nov. 30, including Facebook and Instagram, that claimed to depict Krupke, who is white, typing a pair of racial epithets into a word game as his screen was being displayed on an overhead screen in a Norwalk High School classroom as students appeared to walk by.
Magee said Friday that the district hired Melissa Schilling with Dickinson Law of Des Moines to conduct an investigation into the incident.
Under Iowa’s open records laws regarding employee performance evaluations or disciplinary records, Magee said the investigation and any related details would not be released to the public.
Magee said, however, that Krupke decided to resign after learning that the district’s school board agreed with the superintendent to fire the teacher.
The school is providing partial coverage of Krupke’s position with current staff and has posted a position opening for a long-term substitute teacher.
Regarding staff professional and ethical behavior, Magee said, “We have processes in place. We make sure we follow Iowa law and board policies so that the interests of our employees and the district are honored and attended to.”
Magee added that when he referred to the district, he was including the school district’s families, students and community members.
What community members are saying
Josie Mulvihill, a Black woman and member of Norwalk High School’s Class of 2021, said she was “surprised, and not surprised” by the outcome of Krupke’s case.
“I’m surprised they were willing to hold a teacher accountable,” Mulvihill said. “But I’m not surprised that they gave him the option to resign. That means he can go to a different job and continue doing the exact same thing.”
Mulvihill said she wants more from the district.
“(The district) should have made a public statement apologizing to the people affected by his behaviors,” Mulvihill said.
Dante Powell, a Black Norwalk resident and former mayoral candidate, agreed with Mulvihill that he was “very disappointed with how little information was presented to the public,” adding, “It wasn’t the ending I hoped for.”
The investigation report should have been released to the public, he said.
Powell also said he’s “very interested in what happened and how to keep it from happening again.”
He said he’d hoped Krupke wouldn’t be fired over the incident.
“The real reason I’m sad is that the N-word was projected on an overhead screen in front of the students,” Powell said. “And rather than finding out why this happened and trying to keep it from happening again, it seems like they wanted to sacrifice whoever we need to sacrifice and move on from here. I guess now we’re supposed to forget it happened. It’s a huge bummer.”
Teresa Kay Albertson covers Des Moines’ southern suburbs for the Register and the Indianola Record-Herald. Reach her at [email protected] or 515-419-6098.