By LESLIE COLLINS
November 7, 2012
When Kent Monger lined up an interview with Fox 4, he didn’t think it would cost him his volunteering privileges at Northeast High School.
Monger was called to the principal’s office at NEHS, where he received a hand delivered letter from the principal, revoking Monger’s volunteering privileges.
“I said, ‘You’ve got to be joking,” Monger said, who graduated from NEHS in 1972.
Monger began volunteering at NEHS last August and said he always wanted to be a teacher, but a family member talked him out of it.
“I’m doing something I always wanted to do,” Monger said. “I have a ball. I have the time of my life up there.”
Monger’s volunteering has included assisting with field trips, in-school suspension and helping teachers in the classroom. He’s also volunteered in the school office, making copies for teachers, and lends coaching assistance to the boys’ basketball team. On a regular basis, he contacts the media to give updates on basketball and football scores.
“I’m there for the kids,” he said, adding that they’re like his own.
On Oct. 22, Monger met with Fox 4 on the public sidewalk in front of Northeast High School to talk about his volunteerism and ongoing fundraiser to purchase a power chair lift and make necessary repairs to his vehicle.
“It is hard for me to get the power chair and scooter in and out of my car,” he explained.
Monger said he suffers from a condition that causes multiple reoccurring cysts and bone spurs. Three years ago, he underwent a surgery to remove bone spores from his vertebrae and the surgery impaired his ability to walk.
“If I walk more than 500 feet, I’m exhausted. I’m totally beat,” he said.
As Fox 4 interviewed Monger, school security approached them and asked them to move off school property. However, both Monger and Fox 4 have stated they were not on school property and conducted the interview on a public sidewalk.
When Monger went to NEHS Oct. 25, he received the letter from Principal Dr. Michael Burns.
The letter stated he was not authorized by the district offices to conduct an interview with media on school property. It further stated that “Your actions may result in yet-to-be-determined damage to the image of Northeast High School… As a result of this situation, you are hereby relieved of your duties as a volunteer at Northeast High School.”
The letter also forbid Monger from engaging in any activities associated with NEHS.
“I graduated from Northeast High School. I grew up in this area. I know that a true Viking never, ever says anything mean or nasty about the school or the kids,” he said. “It was a total misunderstanding. I think it could have been handled a whole lot differently.”
When Fox 4 contacted Kansas City Public Schools district headquarters Oct. 25, the district issued a written apology that same day and reinstated Monger’s volunteering privileges.
“It is the hope that Mr. Monger will continue his efforts at Northeast High,” the apology stated. “The letter issued to Mr. Monger has been rescinded. KCPS sincerely apologizes for any misunderstanding the letter may have caused Mr. Monger.”
Monger said he’s since talked to Burns and worked things out.
“I have no hard feelings against Dr. Burns,” he said. “There’s no animosity about the whole deal, and I’m glad that everything’s straightened out.”
Asked if he plans to continue volunteering at NEHS, Monger said, “As long as my health will allow me to, you betcha.”