Another resignation at Union


A second resignation agreement was received and approved by the Union Community Board of Education Friday in connection to an investigation into inappropriate emails exchanged between a teacher and students.

Following a leave of absence that began on April 6, Union Middle School Principal Mark Albertsen submitted his resignation that was approved by the Union school board at a special meeting April 16 at Union High School.

A week earlier, Union middle school science teacher Mark Hookham also submitted a resignation in connection with the email investigation.

School officials issued a brief statement acknowledging the school’s investigation of the email incident on March 17 and that the teacher involved had been placed on administrative leave.

In early April, three search warrants were issued to the Dysart Police Department to seize property belonging to Hookham. There have been no charges brought against the former teacher however.

A Tama County judge ordered the warrant documents to be sealed from the public citing an ongoing investigation by law enforcement officers.

The order says the public discourse around the details of the search warrant could seriously jeopardize the investigation, impede the administration of justice and possibly infringe upon the rights of the victim or the rights of the other persons involved to receive a fair trial without adverse pre-trial publicity.

In another statement issued April 16, Union Superintendent Travis Fleshner announced Albertsen’s resignation and said there was limited information that could be provided about the personnel matter and that any investigations around the incident were being conducted by agencies outside of the school district.

Albertsen’s resignation comes less than two weeks following a meeting of the Union Board of Education where two members of the public called for the school board to terminate the employment of Albertsen and Fleshner citing negligence in their handling of the email incident.

Fleshner addressed questions he’s received about the decision to extend resignation agreements in lieu of other options for both Albertsen and Hookham.

“All options were reviewed by legal counsel prior to being brought to a vote,” Fleshner said. “It was determined that resignation agreements offered the district the best path forward. It is important to note that the school board does not control teacher or administrator licensure.”

In the resignation agreements for both Albertsen and Hookham, the district agreed to pay the former employees their regular wages and benefits through June 30.

Additional lump sum payments beyond regular compensation were also agreed upon with Albertsen receiving a $25,000 payment and Hookham receiving a $15,000 payment from the district.

In the agreements, the district states the resignations should not be construed as an admission by either party of violations of school policy or state and federal law and that the school will only provide dates of employment should they be contacted by future employers for a reference.

The district announced Union Assistant Principal Wayne Slack will remain as the interim principal for the middle school through the end of the school year.