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Former Iowa principal faces disciplinary charges

This news story was published on December 18, 2011.
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Meredith Hines-Dochterman

Former Mount Vernon Washington Elementary School Principal Terry Eisenbarth is facing disciplinary charges of unethical practice and physical abuse of a student for his controversial birthday celebrations.

An Iowa Board of Educational Examiners investigation has found probable cause to hold a hearing on the matter, scheduled for Jan. 23.

If found guilty, Eisenbarth would face disciplinary action, up to and including the loss of his Iowa teaching license.

Eisenbarth resigned from the Mount Vernon school district soon after word of his birthday celebrations was made public.

Eisenbarth had routinely called Washington students into his office on their birthday for a celebratory spanking. He used a padded hockey stick to deliver his birthday “taps” or “pats.” The stick was wrapped in plastic foam, according to Mount Vernon police.

In a letter to Washington parents, Eisenbarth said the “purpose of this practice was solely and genuinely to cultivate relationships with students and highlight their special day.”

Eisenbarth’s letter stressed he was never alone with a student during the birthday celebration.

Mount Vernon school board members unanimously accepted Eisenbarth’s resignation on June 17. The 2010-11 school year was Eisenbarth’s first with the district.

Eisenbarth and his attorney, Mona Knoll of Nazette, Marner, Nathanson and Shea in Cedar Rapids, received notice of the hearing from the Iowa Attorney General’s office on Dec. 1. Eisenbarth has until Dec. 21 to admit, deny or otherwise respond to the allegations.

Knoll could not be reached for comment Friday.

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