FAIRFIELD — Over 300 Lawrence High School students walked out of class and gathered outside the superintendent’s office to protest what they believe was the forced exit of the school’s well-liked principal.

A handful of them plan to speak about their concerns at Thursday’s school board meeting.

In January, the SAD 49 school board approved a restructuring plan spearheaded by Superintendent Reza Namin that included eliminating the jobs of principals of Lawrence High School and Lawrence Junior High School, and three assistant principals and changing the titles and job descriptions of six other officials.

Mark Campbell, principal of Lawrence High School, resigned Friday after the school board approved a financial settlement with him.

Students were surprised to learn of his resignation Monday and said they had not been told he was leaving.

Namin did not appear at the protest. Students waited outside for about 45 minutes in damp weather, holding signs saying they had “no confidence” in Namin and the school board and urging them to “hear our frustration.”

“Mr. Campbell wouldn’t walk unless he was forced out,” senior Nathan Lafreniere said. “We believe he was forced out.”

An estimated 300 Lawrence High School students from all grades return to class on Wednesday following a protest outside the SAD 49 Superintendent’s office in Fairfield regarding restructuring that led to the resignation of popular Principal Mark Campbell. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

School Board Chairwoman Shelley Rudnicki said she felt that it was not the school board’s responsibility to communicate  staffing changes to students.

“That’s an administrative role,” she said.

Namin did not respond to phone calls and emails requesting a comment on the roll-out of the restructuring plan or the student protest.

Lafreniere called Namin’s lack of appearance on Wednesday “pretty cowardish.”

“If he’s going to make changes to the school, he should at least stand (and face us),” Lafreniere said.

About 20 students gathered in the auditorium after school Wednesday to solidify what they want from the board. Suggestions included seeking clearer protocols for staff alterations, questioning the costs and intentions of a district restructuring plan and pushing for Rudnicki and Vice Chairman Tim Martin to step down from those positions and become regular members of the board.

“We have no confidence in their ability to represent us,” said junior Haley Hersey, a student representative on the school board and one of the leaders of Wednesday’s meeting.

Lawrence High School is part of School Administrative District 49, which serves Fairfield, Albion, Benton and Clinton.The SAD 49 school board meeting is scheduled for at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Lawrence Junior High School multipurpose room.

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