School board votes to continue with search in January, approved calendar of key dates

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL-PACHECO - The Scappoose School District school board voted 6-0 to approve continuation of its search for a permanent superintendent during a school board meeting Monday, Dec. 10. Over the past few months the board held several closed meetings to discuss the progress of the current interim superintendent, Paul Peterson, but did not make any final decisions about the next steps until this week.The Scappoose School District is moving forward with its search for a permanent superintendent, opening the application process in January.

After several months of uncertainty about the school board's next steps regarding the superintendent position, and whether or not it would conduct a search or evaluate the progress of the current interim superintendent, Paul Peterson, the board voted 6-0 on Dec. 10 to continue the search. The board additionally adopted a calendar to mark the search's progress.

Board member Branda Jurasek was absent from the meeting.

The district has been under the leadership of interim superintendents since mid-2017, when former Superintendent Stephen Jupe departed with a year left on his contract. In April, former director of curriculum Ron Alley, who was appointed to the interim role in the 2017-18 school year, was set to be offered the job after the district conducted a search and interview process, but declined it after discrimination and sexual harassment concerns were raised.

In late May, the school board appointed Peterson as interim superintendent. Peterson previously worked with the school district before being released early from his contract in 2011. He then took a position with the Northwest Regional Education Service District from 2011 until this year.

There was little discussion among board members Monday regarding the vote to continue the superintendent search, which was advanced on a motion from board member Lisa Maloney and seconded by Tim Brooks.

Also Monday night, Greg McKenzie, a consultant with Next Up Leadership, the board's contracted superintendent search firm, met briefly with the board to talk about a calendar for 2019 that would include dates to accept superintendent applications, hold interviews and then hire someone to take on the role in the 2019-20 school year.

A copy of the calendar, which includes dates for public meetings and executive session closed meetings is available online.

A previously scheduled executive session, which was going to be held "to review the employment-related performance of the chief executive officer," was not held prior to the regular meeting. The school board did not provide a reason for not holding the closed session as planned.

In October, Brooks and Maloney supported a motion to continue the search, but the majority of the board voted it down. During those talks, board member Will Kessi said he wanted to complete an informal evaluation of Peterson before making a decision.

Over the next two months the board held several closed meetings, but did not take any actions about the future leadership of the district. Board Chair Phil Lager told the Spotlight that the closed sessions were held to discuss Peterson's progress as superintendent, but were not part of a formal evaluation. The board did, however, release a letter highlighting Peterson's strengths and opportunities for improvement.

A group of parents expressed concern to the Spotlight in November that the board was not being transparent with the public about its plans, with the parents noting they wanted to be informed about the process. Some of those parents also supported the idea of continuing the search for a permanent superintendent in the new year.

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