Substitute teacher, GSA co-sponsor reinstated at McCormick Junior High

By Chrissy Suttles

Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Via Wyoming News Exchange

CHEYENNE - Kaycee Cook was reinstated as a substitute teacher and Gay-Straight Alliance co-sponsor at Cheyenne's McCormick Junior High on Tuesday, more than a month after she was dismissed from the school.

Cook was reinstated at a meeting with Laramie County School District 1 Superintendent Boyd Brown on Tuesday morning; she will return to McCormick immediately.

The substitute teacher was dismissed shortly after she reported racist and anti-gay flyers found at McCormick to local advocacy group Wyoming Equality on March 27. The flyers read "it's great to be straight it's not OK to be gay," "black lives only matter because if it weren't for them who would pick our cotton" and "Join the KKK." They were directed at members of McCormick's GSA club.

After reporting the flyers, Cook received an email from then-Principal Jeff Conine indicating she was no longer welcome as a substitute or GSA sponsor at the school.

But Brown later told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle she would likely be reinstated following an investigation into the flyers.

On April 26, LCSD1 announced Conine's immediate departure as the school's principal.

Cook said her meeting with Brown on Tuesday was a relatively positive one, but encouraged district officials to better clarify what they expect of school club sponsors.

She said she's nervous, but excited to return to the school, emphasizing her support for McCormick teachers.

"I think, because not everything has been completely transparent with the community as far as the district is concerned, there were probably some questions left unanswered in people's minds about whether I did something wrong," she said. "Being reinstated shows that I didn't. Some of the teachers could feel like it was an attack on them, but that has never been my stance."

Cook has stood by her assertion that she followed GSA protocol by reporting the flyers. Now, she hopes McCormick staff will welcome her back with grace.

"I think the teachers are professionals and will be respectful," she said.

Brown declined to comment on Cook's reinstatement, citing personnel confidentiality.

Her return comes after an internal investigation found a pattern of bullying and policy violations at McCormick. The report was summarized in a statement last Friday, but not released publicly.

At Monday night's school board meeting, LCSD1 released an action plan to address systemic failure at McCormick.

The plan includes an examination of district policy for investigating complaints, and district-wide training on reporting and investigating harassment, bullying, sexual harassment and other incidents.

The district will also conduct at least two community meetings on the plan. The first will take place May 23 and will be facilitated by the Department of Justice. The second will be a symposium June 22-29 and will be led by students in a partnership with F.E. Warren Air Force Base.