SMITHVILLE, Mo. – The Smithville School District announced it accepted the resignation of Dr. Rudy Papenfuhs Thursday night. His resignation happened despite hundreds who cheered for the suspended principal as he returned to Smithville High School for the first time in weeks. The Smithville School Board placed Dr. Papenfuhs on administrative leave in September.
The district said he was having an inappropriate relationship with students. The community piled into the school for a public hearing Thursday night with the school board and their now former principal.
The public hearing turned into a closed session, and the hundreds in attendance were told to leave. The district sent FOX 4 a statement saying it has accepted Dr. Papenfuhs’ resignation and hopes to put this situation to rest.
While students and parents waited for answers, Dr. Papenfuhs walked in to cheers, some even cried. Thursday night he spoke publicly about the situation and support for the first time.
“It's overwhelming. It's tremendously overwhelming. It goes a long way to heal things going forward,” Dr. Papenfuhs said.
Assistant Superintendent Wayne Krueger said the board is ready to move forward.
“I'll be glad to get this behind us so we can move forward and get back to doing what we do, and that's educating the kids. This has been a distraction,” Krueger said.
Meanwhile parents and students expressed their displeasure.
“This school is never going to be the same without Papenfuhs. It's not gonna move forward for a long time no matter what happens here tonight,” junior Cole Taylor said.
Dr. Papenfuhs told FOX 4’s Megan Brilley he's unclear what his future will be like going forward. Before this decision was made, she talked to parents and asked what would happen if Dr. Papenfuhs didn’t return to the district, several said they will be pulling their kids out of the district.
(Editor's note: We're aware some of the language in the statement is unclear and uncertain. FOX 4 got clarification via email from Ashley Jones, Smithville School District Director of Human Resources, that the Board of Education accepted Dr. Papenfuhs' resignation effective immediately.)