YEAR IN REVIEW - Scappoose School district school board carries process of hiring new leader into 2019

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - The Scappoose School District school board voted 5-2 in May to hire Paul Peterson as the interim superintendent on a one-year contract. The school board recently took a public vote to continue its search for a permanent superintendent in the new year and will start accepting applications in January.YEAR IN REVIEW — Since the start of the 2017-18 school year, the Scappoose School District board of directors has been working to find a permanent superintendent, and is continuing that search heading into 2019.

The district has been looking for a permanent superintendent since summer 2017, when the position was vacated by former Superintendent Stephen Jupe following pressure from the board a year before his contract with the district ended.

The school board worked with a consulting firm, Next Up Leadership, to recruit for candidates. Under the consulting firm's guidance, the board via a selection committee of staff and community members narrowed the pool of applicants earlier this year. In April, the board had whittled down its selection to two finalists — Ron Alley, the former interim superintendent and director of curriculum, instruction, assessment and secondary education, and Jim Shank, a superintendent who worked in Washington, Utah and Idaho.

Shortly after being selected as a finalist, however, Shank announced he had taken another job in Idaho. Around the same time, the Scappoose school board received an anonymous letter alleging Alley of sexual harassment and discrimination.

Roughly a week later, Alley withdrew himself from the process, leaving the district without a selection for superintendent. Alley said he would return to his role as curriculum director, but then left the district in June in the midst of a separate internal investigation that was conducted into a different complaint filed against him.

The school board ultimately voted to hire another interim superintendent from a small pool of people who were invited to apply. The board voted 5-2 to hire Paul Peterson, a former Scappoose superintendent who left the district in 2011 when he was released early from his contract. Peterson had been named in a lawsuit filed against him by three women alleging him of discrimination during his previous tenure. The district settled the lawsuit for $500,000 in 2012.

In early December, the school board voted to continue its search for a permanent superintendent after several closed session meetings were held to review the performance of the chief executive officer. The district is planning to start accepting applications in January for the full-time position, with plans to make a hiring decision prior to spring break.

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