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Serena Principal Aaron Rios says in video he's not returning

Unit 2 Board will vote on separation agreement

Serena Middle School and High School Principal Aaron Rios posted a video Thursday to Facebook announcing he will not return as principal to the schools and thanking supporters. The Unit 2 School Board will vote on a separation agreement between he and the board.
Serena Middle School and High School Principal Aaron Rios posted a video Thursday to Facebook announcing he will not return as principal to the schools and thanking supporters. The Unit 2 School Board will vote on a separation agreement between he and the board.

Hours before the Unit 2 School Board was set to vote on a separation agreement between Serena High School and Middle School Principal Aaron Rios, he posted a video Thursday afternoon on Facebook announcing he will not return to the school, saying he "had no choice in this decision."

Rios has been on administrative leave pending a board investigation since he was accompanied out of school by a La Salle County Sheriff's deputy in mid-November. He was not charged, nor handcuffed.

The board will vote on the separation agreement at 6:15 p.m. tonight (Thursday, Feb. 13) at Serena High School Library, 2283 N. 3812nd Road.

About a dozen residents have attended board meetings in the past two months requesting information or updates on the board's investigation into Rios. Board President Renee Thompson has said the board will not release information until an investigation is completed. The Times has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the sheriff's office for records pertaining to reports involving Rios from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30.

Rios made the post Thursday on a Facebook page called #RiosStrong. He said he leaves Serena "with a heavy heart," noting he "had no choice in this decision."

"It destroys me inside," Rios said on the video. "I feel I have let my students, my parents, my faculty, my staff and community down by not returning. One thing I ask for my students is to learn from this as I will."

Rios encouraged students to do good work, be respectful and honest, among other messages.

Assistant Principal Ann Hoffmann has been handling some of Rios' duties since his leave. The Midland School Board in Varna recently announced they hired Hoffmann to become their next high school principal. The staff directory on Midland's website already lists Hoffmann as a principal.

The board's agenda also includes a closed session to discuss personnel items.

Rios was put on leave after a Nov. 15 incident.

According to documents received in a records request, Rios told Sheridan Police Chief Chuck Bergeron “we need to get him arrested” referring to whom Bergeron said was Superintendent Spencer Byrd.

Bergeron said he laughed and Rios said, “I’m gonna take him out … I’m serious, too.”

Bergeron said the comment was a threat to Byrd and passed it along to Byrd and another administrator, advising them to contact sheriff’s deputies. Following the incident, Byrd had requested an order of protection against Rios, but Byrd dropped the request after a hearing date had been set on the matter.

More than 150 signatures have been collected in an online petition drive to keep Rios as principal and students have organized walkouts in support of Rios.

The Unit 2 school district has schools in Serena, Sheridan and Harding.

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