By Jason Schock
Long-time Falls City High School instructor Roger Windle will return to his industrial technology teaching position for the 2015-16 school year, District 56 School Superintendent Tim Heckenlively said late Friday afternoon in a statement. It will be the former head wrestling coach’s 27th year at FCHS.
But Windle has been on administrative leave for the last couple weeks for a disciplinary incident involving a student on April 21. A video of the incident was taken from another student’s phone and that video eventually made it’s way to Heckenlively’s desk. Depicted on the video, Windle is seemingly forcing a student to perform push-ups during class. He’s heard shouting “Up” and “Down” after the first couple repetitions and appears to have a hand in the vicinity of the student’s collar. It is not clear from looking at the mere seconds-long video if the teacher is grabbing the student by the collar or the hair, nor is it easily discernible if Mr. Windle is angry or joking around (EDITOR’S NOTE – The reporter didn’t view the footage first-hand, but rather saw a video shot of the phone during playback of the actual video, so quality was admittedly compromised.)
Windle’s release – which was presumed by many to extend beyond the current school year – caused a firestorm among a large and loud contingent of the student body. Tuesday, well more than 100 students dressed in “Team Windle” T-Shirts in protest of the teacher’s suspension. Students created two different Facebook pages, one of which, a petition to “bring Windle back,” received about 1,100 “Likes.” The students’ reaction caught the attention of state media organizations and WOWT 6 News out of Omaha filmed a segment Wednesday for its nightly news. Additionally, many students voiced plans to attend next Monday’s regular meeting of the Falls City District 56 School Board of Education at the Central Office inside FC Middle School. That prospect prompted officials to consider moving the meeting to the FCMS Band Room because of the anticipated size of the crowd. Now that Windle will, after all, return next fall, Heckenlively said Monday’s meeting would be in the Central Office, as planned. Windle said he is “appreciative of the support shown by the administration, specifically Heckenlively and Principal Gale Dunkhas, as well as the community, parents and students since April 21.”
Windle “has reached an agreement to resolve the issues related to the incident with the administration,” the statement from Heckenlively reads. “The agreement enables Mr. Windle to focus on improvement of skills in areas deemed appropriate by the administration. As part of such agreement, Windle, will remain on administrative leave the remainder of the school year.”
“The school district, administration and Roger and his wife, Susan, are all looking forward to continuing to provide Falls City students with the best education possible,” Heckenlively said.
Windle was the Tiger Head Wrestling Coach for 20 years, but in April 2013 was not asked to coach a 21st season; instead, then-North School Principal and one-time South Dakota High School Wrestling Coach of the Year Ernie Valentine was named just the third head wrestling coach in FCHS history. Valentine, though, coached for just one season before leaving for David City Public Schools. FC High alum Nick Kraft succeeded Valentine and Coach Windle returned to the wrestling room, assisting his former pupil.