Pamplin Media Group – School board begins process to replace Morelock

Meeting on Dec. 7, board hears legal advisers and recruiting firms, directors question president’s actions

The Newberg School Board took the first official steps to replace Superintendent Joe Morelock at a special meeting called by President Dave Brown on December 7.

Council legal counsel, lawyer Lisa Freiley of the Willamette Education Service District, suggested that the council consider appointing Dr Dave Novotney as interim superintendent while the school district seeks a permanent superintendent over the next two to eight years. month. Novotney has served as the superintendent of WESD, an agency that serves 21 Oregon school districts and more than 81,000 K-12 students, for the past nine years.

“It’s kind of an interim measure to create some stability in that position and also to meet some of the legal requirements that we have, to have a superintendent who signs some reports and various things that can happen during the window during that we are looking for a superintendent, ”Freiley said.

Novotney has pledged to serve for 60 days in the district, Freiley said, at no cost through an agreement with WESD, of which Newberg is a member.

The effort to replace Morelock, whose contract was terminated by a 4-3 board vote in November, typically involves hiring an executive search firm to guide the district through the process. finding qualified candidates for the position, selecting such candidates and recommending the best candidates. to the blackboard.

The campaign to replace Morelock began several weeks ago when Dave Brown, without the approval or knowledge of the rest of the board, approached Assistant Superintendent Derek Brown to see if he would be interested in the job. Derek Brown has indicated he is not interested in the job, the president said.

“I’ve been working all week to bring in an acting superintendent and a new secretary to the board and hopefully this will be completed by next Monday,” Dave Brown said in a Nov. 17 email. to the board of directors. “Please let it flow this morning and you can email me with any questions you may have. ”

On November 24, Dave Brown asked school district communications director Gregg Koskela, who has been responsible for some of the duties of Morelock and board secretary Jenn Nelson since his departure, to schedule a special board meeting on the 30th. November.

“Please set up the Zoom meeting for the board,” Dave Brown said in an email to Koskela. “District policy says 24 hours is needed to brief the public, so that’s not a problem. There won’t be any public comment at this meeting, which makes the meeting a lot easier. There is no need for district presentations at this time. ”

Koskela responded that, under board policy, the president can only direct the actions of the superintendent and secretary of the board and there was not enough time to hold a Zoom meeting in just a few days. Koskela also informed the other board members of Dave Brown’s request via email:

“According to policy… council members only interact with the superintendent and the secretary of the council. Both positions are currently vacant. This directive from President Brown broke policy. The duties of secretary to the board are not part of my job description. This directive asks me to complete tasks. that are not in my job description, which adds hours to my workday. ”

Koskela also responded to Brown’s request, focusing on the rush to schedule a meeting against state laws:

“If I am going to step out of my job description and serve as an interim council secretary, I will insist on following the open meeting law.” The responsibility of a council secretary is also to emphasize our responsibility as a public organization to inform the public in an appropriate manner of the specific matters on the agenda and to provide the necessary documents for the public to have information. As you know, several lawsuits have been filed against the board of directors, including one for violation of the open assembly law. I will not put myself or the district in legal danger by assuming the de facto role of secretary of the board without taking action to follow state law and policy approved by the board. ”

Freiley said in the December 7 meeting that Dave Brown advised him to put in place an acting superintendent in January, which prompted Freiley to contact five executive search firms for proposals to be presented to the board tonight. -the.

Board principal Brandy Penner asked if the timeframe Dave Brown was looking for was reasonable given the actions required by the Oregon Teachers Standards and Practices Commission board rules and guidelines, which often require that applicants give 60 days’ notice to their former employers.

Director Rebecca Piros echoed Penner’s remarks, berating Dave Brown for actions he allegedly took without consulting other board members. Among those actions, Brown approached Mark Thielman, Alsea school district superintendent and Republican candidate for governor.

“I just want to make sure we’re doing these things in an orderly and proper manner and in accordance with policy…” Piros said.

Thielman admitted in a story from Oregon that Dave Brown approached him at a GOP meeting in early October, nearly six weeks before Morelock’s ouster, about his interest in the post of Newberg’s superintendent. .

“It’s not outside of Dave’s job as chairman of the board to look for candidates to come and do a good job at Newberg,” Thielman told the Oregonian. “Did he ask me if I would be interested?” Yes. Did he ask me to come in and lead? No.

Dave Brown also responded to the allegations. “Director Piros, I never offered anything to anyone to become the director of the Newberg school district,” he said. “It’s not my role, it’s a board decision… that didn’t happen.”

Brown admitted, however, that he had had a conversation with Derek Brown to see if he would like to be acting superintendent.

“Did you have the power to do it?” Piros replied.

“Well, we needed someone,” Brown retorted. “He would be the most natural person online, being the Deputy Superintendent, to step in. I just asked him if he was interested.”

The board heard from two of the five consultants scheduled to make presentations that evening: BreakThrough Consulting and McPherson & Jacobson. Representatives from both agencies said how their companies go about searching for the superintendent will be entirely up to the board of directors, including whether they want a long-term search or a quick search with a successful candidate chosen in January.

The board suspended before hearing all of the consultants, so Freiley requested that board members bring their questions about the consultants to her, and she would return their answers to them before the regular board meeting on December 14, where the board could choose. a consultant to lead the research.

The council is also expected to hold a public meeting on Dec. 16 to give the community an opportunity to give their opinion on the Superintendent’s situation.

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