Superintendent hiring plan revealed
On Monday night the school board revealed a plan to renew Superintendent Bill Korach's contract for one more year and to begin a process to hire a new superintendent for a July 1, 2014 ,start date - but not without being reprimanded for violating public meeting law.
Board Chairman John Wend-land presented a timeline for a superintendent search, which he said will be 'a process of wide array of input and participation from parents and community at large.'
Contrary to that, parent Karen Delaney accused the school board of developing the superintendent search plan in violation of Oregon meetings law. On March 21, the school board met in an executive session, which is not open to the public. The media is allowed to attend, though its members are prohibited from reporting about the session. But then the board adjourned the meeting and retreated behind closed doors for one-on-one conversations, which the media was not allowed to sit through.
'Public bodies must conduct business in public, it is really that simple,' she said. 'This is orchestrated evasion of common meetings requirements.'
Meetings law allows conversations between board members as long as it does not involve deliberation. Though the law does not permit the whole public body to meet behind closed doors regarding the employment of a superintendent, it does not address meeting in one-on-one sessions to discuss the same topics.
According to the Oregon Revised Statutes, regarding the hiring of a chief executive officer, the public body must have 'advertised the vacancy' and 'adopted regular hiring procedures' before it can meet in executive session.
Additionally, 'the governing body (must have) adopted hiring standards, criteria and policy directives in meetings open to the public in which the public has had the opportunity to comment on the standards, criteria and policy directives.'
Delaney said that the action by the board was in violation of the 'law's intent and spirit.'
Board member Linda Brown defended the board's action.
'I can tell you in all sincerity we have not broken public meeting law,' she said.
Some of the board members were seeing the document presented by Wendland with fresh eyes, she said.
Board member Bob Barman added, 'I have private meetings all the time with different board members to communicate. If I'm breaking a rule, I'm sorry I don't know ... I did not see this deal until it opened up today. If I'm doing something wrong, we need to have our lawyer check it out.'
Another audience member questioned the board's decision to wait to begin a hiring process until this year even though Korach officially retired in February of 2011, then continued in the post under a special plan. The board made no comment.
Wendland's plan will be a 16- to 18-month process. He suggested appointing board members Teri Oelrich and Patti Zebrowski as co-chairs of a Superintendent Succession Committee at the Wednesday, April 25, meeting.
Oelrich and Zebrowski would then meet with local unions, community members and other districts, who have had a recent search experience to get feedback.
By September, the board would approve a contract with a search firm. Then a community process would begin to define the qualifications that the school district is looking for in its next superintendent.
The job could be posted next summer or fall. Then an interview committee would narrow down the applicants. In early 2014, the final candidate would be selected and negotiating a contract would take place. By May 2014, Wendland hopes the school district could introduce its new superintendent.
Korach, 66, has been working in his post since 1987. His contract originally was slated to end in 2013. Korach has been working this year at a reduced salary, which provided enough savings to fund one classified employee salary. This year, he also donated his reduced salary minus the taxes to the Lake Oswego School District Foundation to fund a teaching position.