JOHNSTON, Iowa — Heated meetings marked the hiring of Johnston’s first director of equity, inclusion and belonging last year.
Louis Fountain faced the complaints and vowed to make positive changes in the Johnston School District. That came to an end last week with Fountain’s resignation. Now, there’s uncertainty if the district will fill, or even keep the position.
“His resignation shows, with his length of time in this position, there’s obviously must be something occurring within our district,” Lya Williams said.
Williams along with Tiara Mays and several other parents advocated for the creation of the position.
“We fought really hard to come into the district and he didn’t come in in the most welcoming circumstances,” Mays said.
Both parents are having a difficult time understanding why Fountain, along with six of the seven members from the executive cabinet supporting that role, have also resigned over the past year.
“He, in his time here, was impactful. So you have to wonder, you mentioned all the other positions that have left, where do we look? We’re not discussing that part and it is back to our leadership,” Williams said.
Mays said she’s experienced the disconnect firsthand.
“There’s been times when I’ve talked to the district by myself and they’ll say one thing and you come out of it and it’s like nothing happens. So you have to take a buddy or partner and have as many parties there to make sure it goes over well,” Mays said.
Mays said that’s one of the aspects of what Fountain was able to do. She recalled a time her daughter was called a name based on her skin color and said it impacted her child. With Fountain’s involvement, they were able to get to the bottom of it and find a solution, Mays said.
Now that the school year has started, both Williams and Mays worry about what will happen to the position. The district said it is re-assessing the role, as it does with any vacancy before making a decision.
Superintendent Laura Kacer, who served as Fountain’s supervisor after one of the resignations and subsequent reorganization will oversee equity duties.