Mulino Elementary Principal Alan Willey resigned after school began, and Mario Alba will temporarily take his place

PIONEER PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Mario Alba will serve as the Mulino Elementary principal for the duration of the 2018-19 academic year.Some Mulino Elementary families were startled when they received a letter from the superintendent introducing the school's interim principal, according to one parent who made a public comment at the Sept. 13 school board meeting.

The letter introducing Mario Alba as interim principal was sent to families after Principal Alan Willey suddenly resigned just weeks into the new school year.

"I write to introduce the interim principal who will serve the Mulino Elementary community for the duration of the 2018-19 school year," the letter from Superintendent Tony Mann reads. "Recently retired, Mario Alba is a successful and recognized school leader with over two decades experience as a school principal. He has served as a school leader in Reynolds, Woodburn, Hillsboro, and most recently, North Clackamas."

The letter goes on to describe Alba's qualifications and commitment to students, but makes no mention of why the school was in need of an interim principal. On the backside was a letter from Willey, announcing his own retirement, and asking the community to "accept [his] leaving."

A Mulino parent made a heated speech at the Sept. 13 school board meeting, expressing anger about the district's approach to making these announcements. Ultimately, she put the responsibility on Mann, saying, "Shame on you."

"You mention absolutely nothing about Alan stepping out of his position as principal, of 16 years, mind you, as if he never existed," the parent said. "I'm angry about this.

"Then on the back side of your letter, if you happen to turn it over, oh, it's a letter from Alan," she continued. "I think this is not by accident, nor because you wanted to save a couple of trees. You presented it as if it were an afterthought, when in actuality, Alan deserved to have his own separate letter, expressing his gratitude and experience working with our fine teachers and parents. He had a profound influence in our community, which warrants much greater respect than what was given him."

When Alba had the chance to speak, he expressed his sympathy to the parent speaker and let her know that his door is always open.

Willey's letter, in its entirety, reads as follows.

"Dear staff, Parents, Community Members, Students and School Board Members:

"After 22 years of service as an administrator with the Molalla River School District, the past 16 as principal of Mulino Elementary School, I am announcing my resignation/retirement. I recognize that the timing is awkward, as the school year has just begun.

"Mulino was a special community when I started in 2002, and it remains a special community. Our school has never been about any particular staff member or principal, and our excellence will continue without me. The current students, staff and parents are wonderful.

"One of my favorite memories as a young boy was golfing with my dad at Ranch Hills. I remember that once we drove down the big hill and crossed the bridge (Milk Creek), we would turn left at the school. I never imagined that I would someday be the principal of that school, but what an honor it has been.

"Please accept my leaving. I love and will miss you all. To quote Dr. Seuss, 'Don't be sad it is over, be glad it happened.' "

Willey could not be reached for comment on the reason he resigned.

Alba will serve the school for the duration of the 2018-19 academic year, according to Mann's letter, and an official search for a permanent principal will begin in the spring.

Kristen Wohlers
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