School board reinstates Portales teacher

Tony Parra

A Portales High School teacher fired on May 6 was reinstated by Portales Schools Superintendent James Holloway on Tuesday morning.

The decision came 13 days after Kay Jilek presented her case to the school board at a meeting. She told the board she was not given a reason for her termination by PHS Principal Melvin Nusser, though she suspected it had something to do with a failing grade she gave a student caught cheating.

“I’m happy to be back at Portales High,” Jilek said on Tuesday.

Nusser has declined to discuss the issue. He said only Holloway can comment on personnel matters.

Holloway said he met with Nusser and Jilek over the past few days regarding the dismissal.

“I reviewed the material Mrs. Jilek presented to the school board and looked at the situation,” Holloway said. “I decided to reinstate her and she will be teaching at the high school.”

Holloway said he is unsure whether Jilek will return as math teacher and junior varsity volleyball coach, her previous positions. He said scheduling has not been completed by Nusser for the school semesters.

Holloway said he could not go into further detail over the reason for Jilek’s termination because it is a personnel issue.

Jilek made her presentation before the school board during the public comment session on June 15.

Holloway said the decision to reinstate Jilek was his.

“The only personnel decision they (board members) have is the firing and hiring of the superintendent,” Holloway said.

Jilek told board members she believed Nusser fired her because she gave a student close to Nusser a zero for cheating. She also said she wrote an e-mail seeking change at the school.

“I was criticized for stating solutions,” Jilek told the board. “I’ve been branded a bad teacher.”

Jilek taught math for two years at the high school and also taught 23 years at the Portales Junior High.

Holloway said allegations made by Jilek against Nusser were not addressed when he considered reinstatement.

“We simply looked at the process (for termination) and it was not followed. I made the decision based on the steps of our evaluations.”

Holloway said he did talk with Nusser and Jilek about working together again.

“That was discussed,” Holloway said. “I am satisfied that we can move on. I would not have made the decision if I didn’t feel it was right. Mrs. Jilek and Mr. Nusser are adults and they can work past that.”

Jilek agreed.

“I’m definitely ready to put everything behind and move on. I believe we can work together,” she said.