Oregon superintendent is FIRED by school board for not ignoring governor's statewide mask mandate, and tearfully tells meeting that he is 'tired of disappointing my colleagues'

 A superintendent in rural Oregon was fired by his school board at an emotional meeting on Monday, amid backlash because he upheld Governor Kate Brown's statewide mask mandate. 

The Adrian School Board held a special closed-door meeting, which ended in the termination of superintendent Kevin Purnell.  

No reason was given for his termination, but both supporters and critics said that his stance on following the statewide directive had put him at odds with the board, the Oregonian reports.

The former superintendent was described by community members as a 'rule follower' who would enforce the statewide mask mandates despite his personal opposition to them. 

But some community members had hoped that the local administration would fight against the mask mandates.

The session lasted less than half an hour and ended with a 4-1 vote to fire Purnell. He held his position for three years and worked for the district for 14 years. 

Board Chair Eddie Kincade said after the meeting that the decision was due to Purnell's failure to follow board directives but declined to elaborate, the Malheur Enterprise reported. 

Kevin Purnell, a superintendent in Oregon, was fired by the Adrian School Board on Monday assumingly for his decision to uphold Gov. Kate Brown's statewide mask mandate in schools

Kevin Purnell, a superintendent in Oregon, was fired by the Adrian School Board on Monday assumingly for his decision to uphold Gov. Kate Brown's statewide mask mandate in schools

Members of the community believe that his ousting was due to his following of Governor Brown's mask mandate. 

When the board returned from their private deliberations, Purnell gave an emotional speech to an equally emotional crowd, according to the Enterprise. 

He admitted to communication issues between himself and the board stating, 'Ultimately, I feel that I have lost my way, and it began to consume me.'

'I have become tired. Tired of disappointing myself, my family, my friends, my colleagues.' 

During public comments, Adrian resident Paul Shenk shared that he wanted Purnell to 'to advocate for the community' the Enterprise reported. 

He acknowledged, 'Kevin likes rules' but expressed, 'What I feel the frustration is, is that we expect the administrators to advocate for the community,' said Shenk.  'As superintendents, you guys need to band together to fight.'

He gave an emotional goodbye to the attendees of the Adrian School Board meeting saying he was tired of 'disappointing' himself and his community a week into the new school year

He gave an emotional goodbye to the attendees of the Adrian School Board meeting saying he was tired of 'disappointing' himself and his community a week into the new school year

The school board did not give a detailed explanation but Board Chair Eddie Kincade said the decision was due to Purnell's failure to follow board directive

The school board did not give a detailed explanation but Board Chair Eddie Kincade said the decision was due to Purnell's failure to follow board directive 


Purnell's firing comes one week into the new school year. The state's schools chief, Colt Gill, spoke on mask mandates in schools and administrators duty to uphold them. 

'We have a shared priority to reliably return students to full-time, in-person school this year,' he said according to the Enterprise. 

'Face coverings are proven to slow the spread of COVID-19. I say this knowing that face coverings aren't the argument. Personal freedom is the argument. But, with personal freedom comes responsibility, not only for ourselves, but for our neighbors.'

At the meeting announcing Purnell's termination, some community members spoke in support of Purnell and his decision to implement Gov. Brown's mask mandate. 

'I'm a senior this year at Adrian and I don't really care what it takes,' said Elizabeth Nielson, Associated Student Body president, according to the Enterprise. 

'Being online in school was not good. And if it means doing something I don't want to do, because I don't want to wear a mask, I'll do what it takes.'

Paul Shenk, (pictured center) an Adrian resident, spoke at a public school board meeting saying that he wished that school administration would fight the mask mandate on behalf of the community

Paul Shenk, (pictured center) an Adrian resident, spoke at a public school board meeting saying that he wished that school administration would fight the mask mandate on behalf of the community 

Elizabeth Nielson, (pictured) Associated Student Body president, addressed the school board saying that although she does not want to she would rather wear a mask than do online school

Elizabeth Nielson, (pictured) Associated Student Body president, addressed the school board saying that although she does not want to she would rather wear a mask than do online school

Nickie Shira, Malheur Education Service District STEM coordinator also defended Purnell, 'I know firsthand that Mr. Purnell is one of the best superintendents in the county, and it breaks my heart that we are in this position.' 

'It's sad that it has come to this. But beyond mask mandates, there's a lot to running the school, to leading the staff and being an administrator. And Mr. Purnell is a man of integrity and ethical leadership,' she said as reported by the Enterprise. 

On August 16, Gov. Brown published an open letter to superintendents and school board members warning that 'the highly contagious Delta variant has changed everything.' 

She implemented an indoor mask mandate for public spaces and K-12 schools. The governor urged the administrators to follow the mandates writing that she has hear a lot about personal freedom but not enough about personal responsibility acknowledging that some local leaders and community members have been pushing to ignore her mandates.   

Gov. Brown warned 'Flouting mask requirements will put everything we have worked toward in the last year at risk.' 

Oregon is currently under a high transmission warning. They recently reported 5,545 new cases and 40 recent deaths in a three day period. 

Malheur County, which encompasses the Adrian School District, is also under a high transmission warning. They reported a total of 292 covid cases- with 146 of them being new in the last week- a 23% increase from the previous week.  

The county has been reporting a surge in covid cases as more children are contracting the virus. 

Malheur County also has the lowest vaccination rate in the state for total population, at 33% according to public data. The statewide vaccination rate is 61%.

Oregon superintendent is FIRED by school board for not ignoring governor's statewide mask mandate, and tearfully tells meeting that he is 'tired of disappointing my colleagues' Oregon superintendent is FIRED by school board for not ignoring governor's statewide mask mandate, and tearfully tells meeting that he is 'tired of disappointing my colleagues' Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 11:02 Rating: 5

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