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Group of parents say they'll remove children from school if unlicensed principal can't stay

Posted at 11:11 AM, Aug 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-20 13:41:54-04

KIOWA COUNTY — As we reported on August 19, The Colorado Board of Education has voted to move forward with a formal hearing to revoke all credentials for a Colorado principal and superintendent who lied about her background.

However, some parents are coming to Yonda Leonard's defense and have even gone as far as threatening to leave the district if she cannot stay in her current role.

State documents confirmed Leonard lied about having her principal's license and special education endorsement. A state review of her background also found untruthful statements about the coursework she says she completed.

The Colorado Department of Education confirmed to KOAA News 5 that Leonard only holds a K-6 elementary license.

However, that too is now in jeopardy.

The State Board of Education has made a motion to move forward with requesting a revocation hearing to determine whether Leonard will lose her credentials to teach elementary school. If revoked, she would not have any licenses that would allow her to teach in any district in Colorado.

Brianna Wilson, a junior at Plainview School believes Leonard should be allowed to stay regardless of the official state findings.

"I've gone to different schools and this is by far the best school I've been to and the best principal I've ever had," she said.

Technically, Leonard cannot be considered a real principal without a principal's license. Some community members say Leonard has done great things for the district and a license on paper shouldn't impact her ability to continue in her current role.

"That piece of paper means nothing to me," Sheridan Lake resident Linly Stum said. "If the person is doing a good job, you find a way to work with it or around it."

Brianna's mother, Renee, is also speaking out in favor of keeping the unlicensed principal.

Renee says she has a special needs daughter and claims Leonard has been both a role model and mentor for her.

"She got my daughter involved in basketball, track, and she played counselor for my daughter on her bad days," Renee said. "She was always there."

We're told Renee's special-needs daughter has since graduated.

"I don't care if it (the state investigation) says she has these licenses or not," Renee added. "To me, she is one of our best teachers and superintendents these kids can have and I don't think she needs to go."

Some parents are going as far as promising to remove their children based on what happens moving forward.

"Myself and several other parents will yank our kids because our kinds and Yonda are a perfect match," parent Krystal Caddick said. "She does great for them. For them to push her out and think that she doesn't do anything for the kids is ridiculous. She's always been about the kids."

However, others question how someone can serve as a district leader without the appropriate licenses.

"She in my mind, has lied to everyone in the community about what she has and what she doesn't," Sheridan Lake resident Kathy Davis said.

Leonard's elementary teachers license remains active pending the outcome of a formal hearing which has not yet been scheduled.

Joanna Beck, another parent believes the removal of Leonard from the district will shut the school down. The other parents in attendance mirrored her concerns.

"It's just tearing this community apart and I have a feeling it will shut Plainview School down and I don't want that for my kids," Beck said.

At the time Leonard applied for the district superintendent and principal job, we're told there was one other candidate from Cheyenne Wells in the running.