Oregon City Superintendent Larry Didway, under investigation by state officials, lands top job in countywide group

Oregon City Superintendent Larry Didway will become the new leader of the Clackamas Education Service District on July 1, the CESD Board announced at its May 26 meeting.

Larry DidwayAccording to the new three-year contract, Didway will make $205,750 annually in the position replacing retiring CESD Superintendent Jada Rupley to lead the district providing various administrative services like printing and background checks for 10 school districts throughout Clackamas County. Didway is making $169,582 annually in his current position, having received a 3% raise in July 2020, and a 5% raise in July 2019.

If he had stayed on as OC superintendent, Didway would have faced a school board with a new majority of four members elected May 18. These board members are scheduled to take their seats in July.

Didway recently offered his "sincere apology" to OC school board members for failing to prevent an illegal vote to retain a controversial equestrian coach. In the March 3 email, Didway called the state's investigation into the legality of the vote a "foregone conclusion," since the vote occurred during an executive session, a clear violation of state laws that prohibit such final decisions in closed-door meetings.

Didway is among the administrators under investigation by the Oregon Department of Education and the state Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, for alleged mishandling of the case and alleged retaliation against families who complained about the coach. District officials took responsibility for potential equestrian concussions that went unreported to the state, a violation of state rules.

Didway has spent most of his career with Oregon City schools, including the last 10 years as superintendent. Under his leadership since 2011, the school district developed and implemented a $158 million capital improvement plan that a voters approved in 2018.

"Larry is an exceptional leader, with a proven record of achievement, impeccable character and integrity, and unparalleled knowledge of our Clackamas County communities and diverse school districts," said Jon Eyman, chair of the Clackamas ESD Board of Directors. "His deep passion for giving all students the opportunity to succeed, and commitment to building strategic partnerships to improve education opportunities and outcomes, will serve our region and our entire state extremely well as he moves into this new role at Clackamas ESD."

Didway said he's honored to take on the countywide superintendent position and inspired by this opportunity to lead the region toward a "shared vision of excellence" after the pandemic. In addition to administrative services, CESD provides direct special education, early learning, career/technical education and migrant education services; professional development for educators; data housing/analysis and other technology support.

"I dream of a Clackamas County where no child can fail, and where we as public educators fail no child," Didway said. "As Oregon City superintendent for the past decade, I've witnessed firsthand the important role Clackamas ESD plays as a convener and service provider in supporting the schools, students and educators in our region. I'm looking forward to building on that strong history of success and collaborating with our many partners to help all children in Clackamas County reach their full potential."

Didway, who was born and raised in Clackamas County, began his career in the Salem-Keizer School District, where he taught in the talented and gifted program. He then moved to Oregon City as an elementary school teacher, and later spent three years teaching English in Japan. The rest of his service as an educator, more than three decades, has been in Oregon City. Prior to becoming superintendent in 2011, his roles in the district included middle school principal, human resources director and assistant superintendent.

"Every policy and subsequent action in the Oregon City School District are looked at through an equity lens largely in part to Larry's commitment to inclusion and fairness," said Martha Spiers, chair of the Oregon City School Board. "Larry listens, moderates, sympathizes, instructs and then makes firm decisions. He leads by engaging with integrity. Losing him from our district is only mitigated by keeping him in Clackamas County leadership."

Didway holds a master's degree in education from Western Oregon State College, where he also earned his bachelor's degree in elementary education. In addition, he holds a bachelor's in political science from Willamette University. He resides in Oregon City with his wife, Chris. They have two children, both graduates of Oregon City High School, who currently are attending college.

The Oregon City School Board will appoint an interim superintendent in a special session on June 1.

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