Woodburn School District Board votes to terminate superintendent
Correction: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated Linda Reeves was the lone no vote. We regret the error.Woodburn School District voted to terminate the employment of Superintendent Oscar Moreno Gilson Monday.
The board voted 4-1 to terminate with Board member Noemi Legaspi opposed.
Moreno Gilson has been on paid administrative leave since January when the board hired an outside firm to investigate complaints that had been levied against the superintendent through the district's Senior Leadership Team.
The school board deliberated for over an hour in executive session before returning to the public meeting and holding the vote. Those deliberations are confidential and by law cannot be disclosed.
Juan Larios has been serving as the district's acting superintendent since Moreno Gilson was placed on leave.
Board Chair Anthony Medina said in an earlier Op-ed piece shared with the Woodburn Independent on April 14 that the investigation substantiated the claims, and that the district worked with Moreno Gilson's legal representation in hopes of reaching a separation agreement. The superintendent and his legal team rejected the agreement, demanding a substantially larger settlement.
Moreno Gilson was hired in March of 2020 and assumed the position on July 1. His contract was to serve as the superintendent through June 30, 2023.
Moreno Gilson countered in his own Op-ed piece in the Independent that he was working toward fortifying equity and accountability within the district and the board's action thwarted that.
"The Woodburn School Board tasked (Moreno Gilsoin) to 'move the mission forward' when it came to equity-building and advancing a curriculum based on cultural competencies," Medina wrote. "In the short six months Oscar served as superintendent he began refining those pillars, and for that the Woodburn School Board is grateful.
"However, no amount of positive change in that time excuses a leader from being responsible for the impact of his or her personal conduct. I would urge those who are working from assumptions to withhold judgment out of respect for your colleagues who were brave enough to come forward."
Medina further stressed that the board the law restricts the board as to what it can share about district litigation matters, but the superintendent's legal representation does not have the same constraints.
Following Monday's decision, Moreno Gilson's attorney Maria Witt expressed dismay at the outcome.
"Tonight, Mr. Moreno Gilson set forth a concrete path forward to return to work and advance his program of accountability and equity," Witt said. "Since being on administrative leave, he has received overwhelming support from teachers and community members, and he was hopeful the board would refocus its priorities on serving students and families.
"Unfortunately the board decided instead to breach its contract with Mr.
Moreno Gilson, which is both a violation of law and an unnecessary distraction from the important work that needs to be done in Woodburn schools."
On Tuesday Medina issued a statement on behalf of the board.
"All due process has been given to Mr. Moreno Gilson as outlined in his employment contract," Medina wrote. "The Woodburn School District is not able to comment on the complaints, the investigation, or the Notice of the District's Consideration of Termination that was provided to Mr. Moreno Gilson on April 8. This is to respect Mr. Moreno Gilson's privacy and that of the Woodburn School District employees who bravely came forward."
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