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Rolly: Alta High official accused of racism settles with district

Published January 24, 2012 11:47 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Alta High School assistant principal who was reprimanded for alleged racist incidents at the school and reassigned to a different school last year has settled claims he filed against the district, stating he is "completely satisfied with this outcome."

Mark Montague, a 34-year public school employee, voluntarily resigned from the district, effective Friday. He had been the vice principal of Butler Middle School after his transfer last year from Alta.

The terms of the settlement are confidential. But Montague had demanded in his grievance that a reprimand letter and all related documents containing "false, misleading and defamatory information" be removed from his file.

Montague and Alta Principal Mont Widerberg were placed on paid administrative leave in March after complaints were made that a student donned a white Ku Klux Klan robe and hood during a spirit assembly in which the seniors and juniors wore black and white costumes to demonstrate school spirit.

The district subsequently released statements to the media that it was investigating other alleged incidents of racism at Alta. Widerberg retired and Montague was reassigned to the middle school.

"It was gratifying to have it acknowledged that there was absolutely no finding of racism or condoning of racism on my part," Montague said in a statement. "Throughout this ordeal, I've heard from former students who told me that they believed in me and let me know I made a difference in their lives."

Canyons District spokeswoman Jennifer Toomer Cook said the district would have no comment on the settlement. "We do not comment publicly on personnel matters," she said. "We wish Mister Montague well in his future endeavors."

The reprimand letter that had been placed in Montague's file mentioned other incidents, including a football player taunting a black player in 2009 with a "noose" fashioned from duct tape, and a fight between a white student and black student that occurred off campus.

Montague's grievance letter said that in both cases the offending students were suspended and the incidents were handled with the involvement of several administrators and officials. It noted that Montague had been issued a gag order by District Superintendent David Doty, prohibiting him from discussing the incident, and therefore the ability to defend himself.

The confidentiality agreement limits what Montague can say about the settlement, but he said it is "very positive on my behalf."

It was especially important that the racism allegations were put to rest, he said.

Montague's seven grandchildren include "13-month-old Kylee, who is biracial. I always taught my children to stand up and take action against prejudice and injustice," said Montague, who taught political science at Brighton High School before becoming a counselor and then principal of Jordan High School before retiring in 2008. He came out of retirement in 2009 to be the assistant principal at Alta in the newly constituted Canyons School District.







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