South Fork High School Teacher Still on Paid Leave After Board Meeting

south fork high school

Stock photo of South Fork High School

Last night at its regular monthly meeting, the Southern Humboldt Unified School Board decided to take no action at this time in regards to a personnel matter. Though the District declines to name the employee referenced, supporters of South Fork High School teacher Paul Schmollinger believe that this is in regards to his situation.

Schmollinger was escorted off campus about 5 weeks ago by the administration during the school day. Since then he has been on paid leave, according to his wife Saundra Stephenson. [For more in a previous article, click here.]

School Board member Thomas Mulder explained that while he wasn’t commenting on the specific case, “no action” would mean that the employment status of anyone being discussed would not change. When asked about the performing arts teacher, he said, “Mr. Schmollinger is still an employee of the School District…He is not in the classroom.”

He went on to state that the School District cannot legally discuss personnel matters before the Board but the involved employee can discuss the issues. He said that anyone with any concerns about an employee should approach the employee for answers.

Mulder also stressed, “The School District has never discussed…cutting the performing arts program…We are committed to keeping the program a viable asset for the community and the students.”

He added, “I have been told we have a teacher in the classroom and teaching the students.

This afternoon the Southern Humboldt Unified School District released the following letter:

To the community of the Southern Humboldt Unified School District:


This is to respond to misinformation that is circulating in the community and causing anxiety about Southern Humboldt Unified School District’s arts programs.  The performing arts program at Miranda Junior High and South Fork High School, including the music program, is a valuable part of our students’ lives.  We have no intention or plans to cut this program.  Rumors to the contrary are unfounded.  The District has removed the current music teacher from the classroom for reasons we are legally prohibited from discussing. He remains an employee.   Those in the community who know this individual may ask him for details which we are barred from discussing.  No such bar prohibits him from discussing details that he chooses to share. 


Thank you

Southern Humboldt Unified School District



  • What did he do???

  • It would be wise of the employee to not discuss the matter with the public until he or she has been advised by his or her union representative at the school district and the CTA Eureka Office. Hopefully the students will be able to work well with the guest teacher while the issue is resolved.

    • True but that is not accomplished by make a public request to send testimonials to the Board. But the fact that the school board said , while they couldn’t talk about it, the employee can and questions should be directed to him means that improper behavior towards a student or coworker is not involved.

      • Or they know there is misconduct and put the ball back in his court meaning he can own up to his own transgressions. His wife tried to power play by asking for blind support without revealing what she is clearly a party to. I wonder if they said why he was removed from the classroom if he would have the same response?

    • If he discusses the matter in public, he waives his attorney-client privilege.

  • Dear Paul,

    What gives? You are apparently allowed to talk about it.


    the dumb mvtherfuckers that pay your salary while you sit on your ass at home

  • Walter who do you think you are. He is an honorable man who has done nothing to you or this community. If there is any inquiry to a persons character that is on paid administration they must remove them until further inquiry is fully satisfied. He is an amazing human being and deserves more than you are giving him. Who ever doesn’t use their real names and posts negative comments is a coward and has no right to publicly try and humiliate a selfless soul as Paul is.

    • #thedepkinghasspoken.

    • You have no idea what this person does in private. He could be a cocaine sniffing pedophile for all we know. People that abuse children are amazing at hiding it.Let an investigation be completed before jumping to any conclusions. As for mis interpreted hugs…why is a teacher touching any student at all? Hands off! No teacher should be touching students in any way at any time. Ever. These kids aren’t your family or friends. They are your customers in a place of business. If you don’t understand professional boundaries maybe you should be replaced.

      • Projection much?

        • You betcha! My time working at EPD showed me exactly why you never really know. I have always been a fan of HANDS OFF when it comes to any type of teacher/student interaction. He wouldn’t be in this predicament if he followed a strict no touching policy. It works. You can be a really great instructor without putting your hands on kids. Pretty simple.

          • Do you know what projection is?

            Agree with you about never really knowing though. The coke fiend molester could be anyone. Perhaps even a former EPD employee. 😉

  • If this were a private company his ass would have been fired.

    My property taxes have helped pay for this amazing human being to sit on his ass for five weeks after he was escorted off the property, and pay for his replacement. Enough already, fire him or reinstate him. The incompetent ball-less school board needs to stop draining the taxpayers.

    • I’ll bet you’re a lot of fun at parties.

    • If my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle. The school isn’t a private company.

    • Public schools arn’t private companies. If they were, good teachers would be fired by agenda oriented administrators more often. Some public school administrators want public school to become privatised. The current Director of Education, Betsy DeVos, is one of these people. Public schools serve all students, private schools can deny admission to students w disabilities, teen moms, and kids w/ emotional and economic challenges. Poor schools would become poorer and rich schools richer. Society would pay a higher price in prison beds, currently 75K per bed per year, welfare programs, and mental health programs. It is hard to measure what public schools prevent, what doesn’t happen in a person’s life: did not go to prison, did not drop out, did not wind up on public assistance. Public schools do a great deal for American citizens! Paul Schmollinger is a teacher that has contributed to what doesn’t happen in a kids life.

    • Don’t u think he wouldnt rather be teaching his class. The reason he is on paid leave is the actions of the school board to my understanding

  • Kym;
    Paul’s wife Saundra has stated numerous times that he was NOT escorted off campus.

    I am so sorry to hear that whatever has been ‘investigated’ for a month (?) has not been resolved.
    I hope those ‘investigating’ are working as hard, and as thoroughly as necessary to bring this to a conclusion as quickly as possible.


  • Dismissing a teacher is not easy. They are entitled to civil discovery and a three judge panel.

    • It is very, very, very hard with built in plans for accommodation, structured assistance and treatment.

    • no, no, no. entitled to go to jail maybe. you just fire them if they do something inappropriate, illegal or fattening. grow a set school board. fire him, or reinstate him, or let him resign and move onto anther school completely unaware of the circumstances.

  • the locks were not changed at the HS just a stupid rumor

  • Hugging should not be banned anywhere.

    • Yeah, what did he do anyway? There were some pretty ugly rumors,

    • Yeah, they are still looking for lebow I beleive, one of my freinds that had him as a music teacher all through school ran into him 3/4 the way across the states in a grocery store.He walked up to don and said hi, lebow left the store imediatly and did not respond 😳

  • On the way to economic failure.

    Don’t know what he did but know he’s a great teacher and the kids in music think he’s great.there all totally bummed and are hoping he gets cleared to come back.i also know he fights endlessly for the kids to get what They need and for them to not be shorted by budget,which has rubbed some people the wrong way over the years.he constantly stands up to the administration on the kids behalf.all I can say is I hope he’s cleared of any wrongdoing(hope he’s innocent) because I see he’s passionate and believes in what he does. The kids see it too !!!!!!!

  • Walter, get a grip. Why are you so damn angry? I’m not even involved with this school in anyway but I do know that he has given way more than five weeks of free time to the school district and the kids. He has worked over and above his schedule at the high school putting in probably thousands of hours of his time for free. And I doubt he’s enjoying these weeks . Chill out.

  • Paul, you should really discuss this with the lawyer and put out some kind of Public statemen.The longer this is kept secret the more the rumors will perpetuate and spreads… Everybody’s already assuming the worst anyways, the longer it’s kept hush hush the more your character will be tarnished whether or not anything wrong happen. There are a lot of people in this community that respect you enough to at least hear you out of your side of the story, even if you fucked up admitting to it couldn’t be any worse than people’s assumptions and rumors anyways.

  • Thank you Lonny , he is a great teacher, I hope this gets resolved. What happened is not worth firing him over.

  • Paul (not the teacher; Kim will verify)

    I agree with THC above. Any teacher removed by their board without an explanation will cause the general public to start up the rumour mill. This has gone on long enough. Any case being brought against the teacher should have been brought forward by now. The longer it goes, the longer the rumours continue. He should at the minimum thank people who know him and continue to stand by him.

    The fact that the school board member Thomas Mulder directed anyone interested to question the teacher, and not the school board, is a tell. Stand by your teacher unless you know something to the contrary. Schools are strange organisations with power that can be abused by the school’s administration, especially in small rural schools. If he did something wrong, it will come out and he will be punished.

    Try not to take the low road.

    • The “case” all the way to the resolution when it occurs, unless criminal charges are made, is a closed, private personnel matter. The Board can not divulge information on it by law. So blaming them for that is useless.

      On the other hand the employee is not barred from disclosure. If he choses to protect himself by keeping silent, that is his right. But if you’re going to blame someone for keeping the rumor pot boiling, that is the source. Not the Board.

      • white cops on dope

        The board should have resolved this matter weeks ago. Instead of hiding behind a law that doesn’t exist and costing the taxpayers for extra staff. The board can make true statements about an employee. There are no laws against speaking or reporting the truth. This board is worthless. Thomas Mulder should resign. Fire Paul or clear him. FFFFS how long does it take to investigate a high school incident? Glad this board isn;t expected to make decisions about important issues like student safety or the budget…..ooops.

        • Of course there are. The California Constitution has privacy enshrined in it it. That a government agency- a school board- can not legally violate the very document that creates its authority should be obvious.

          Besides that, without knowing the specifics, every school has employee rights that give timeframes for counter issues from the teacher, reaffirming decision by the Board, requests for reasonable accommodation, responses to requests, appeals, reaffirmation and more appeals. Etc. It can take years.

          If the Board was behaving improperly, the teacher in question would certainly be saying so. That they aren’t means that it is not a big issue.

  • Just because the school board won’t provide information doesn’t mean you can’t keep asking or share your thoughts and concerns with them. You can send them an email or a letter, or speak in person at the monthly meeting. A wave of public input would make it clear to the board that this is an issue that concerns many of us. It is in everyone’s best interests to resolve this ASAP. Don’t let the board off the hook. If you want more info, ask for it. If you want a speedy resolution, ask for it. If you want to support Paul or speak against him, do it. Do it to the board, on the record.

  • We as parents if we are being asked to support the music teacher should know the details of the project of matter in question I for one will not give my support unless I know what he did or is being accused of doing to me its scary for going to have two more children going into high school its confusing and upsetting we as parents need clarification one what is going on

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