Superintendent Resigns

The search for a new superintendent is underway.
Superintendent Dawn Granger’s recent resignation will take effect July 1, a year before her contract was due to end. The agreement was reached Jan. 25 this year, after months of discord between the superintendent and district, students, staff and community members. Over 60 complaints were filed against Granger for reasons ranging from communication issues to lack of substitutes, to concerns about the suspension of Athletic Director Greg Mulkey last spring.

Mulkey’s suspension, for reasons still unclear, led students to organize a walk-out known as Operation White Buffalo. Senior Carli Clarkson was one of the students who not only participated in the Operation White Buffalo walk-out but presented a complaint against Granger representing her peers. Clarkson said she is pleased that Granger has agreed to resign.

“Everything that we’ve worked for as a school [student body] has paid off,” Clarkson said. “It’s going to be a better atmosphere.”

The published 886 pages of content surrounding the complaints submitted against Granger following her resignation. Specific complaints were investigated by Jim Buck, who was hired by the district to thoroughly examine them and then provide recommendations to the Coos Bay School Board of Directors. The common underlying factor from the majority of the complaints was communication issues at the expense of the student’s educational experience.  Clarkson said poor communication and decisions made by Granger directly affected students.

“As a school we had a complaint; she made a promises to ASB [Associated Student Body] and never followed through,” Clarkson said. “Students got the worst of the impact.”

Principal Travis Howard said he has seen the negative effects of the complaint process over the last several months.

“All of the complaints have built a rift between the district and community,” Howard said.

A disconnect between the board and school caused a majority of the problems amongst the education community, Howard said. Without communication the school cannot run effectively or efficiently. Howard also said strong communication is necessary to lead a school district as it moves forward.

“Communication and quality communication is imperative to having a school run effectively,” Howard said. “Without communication, a lot of different entities are battling each other.”

The school board approved Granger’s resignation, providing her a $164,000 settlement equivalent to her salary and benefits for the last year she would have worked and is now looking forward as it seeks to find her replacement. The board has hired Nextup, a leadership search company, to aid it in its search. Nextup is seeking input from community members, students and staff through surveys and meetings in the community. The firm said it wants to know what each group seeks in the next superintendent. School board member Adrian Deleon said he  highly respects the voice of the community.

“There are groups who think we should look in the community, and groups that want a candidate outside the community,” Deleon said. “The community is a major part of hiring the search to find the best candidate.”

Howard said finding a superintendent who understands the community’s strengths and weaknesses would be essential.

“The district is looking for someone who will connect with our community,” Howard said. “They want someone with a firsthand knowledge of Coos Bay and what Coos Bay is about. Someone who will bridge the gap between district and the school.”

Deleon said consistency is key and that a vital component for the search of the superintendent is to find a candidate who will stay for the long term.

“I would like to see a new superintendent that sticks around. Statewide, superintendents stay around three to five years before moving around,” Deleon said. “I’d like to see someone stick around for ten years.”

The superintendent is essential to the atmosphere of the school and ASPIRE Coordinator Jennifer Bunnell said she hopes the new one is somebody who is supportive of all activities, talks with the students, and respects the traditions of Marshfield.

“It’s important for the superintendent to meet with students, have an open dialogue, and keeping promises made to the students,” Bunnell said. “I’m hopeful that we get someone who understands our community and will lead us into the future.”

Clarkson could not agree more. Even though she will graduate in June, she said she hopes for the best as the district moves forward.

“We have to let go. We can’t base the future off of the past,” Clarkson said. “The next coming year is important that the school supports the superintendent.”