District to pick up pieces
The De Soto USD 232 will need to fill seven administrative positions before the beginning of the school year in August.
During a special Board of Education meeting Friday morning the board accepted the resignation of three administrators, including Superintendent Sharon Zoellner.
The board also accepted the resignations of Bret Church, executive director of teaching and learning services, and Susan Sipe, director of special services.
Church, who has worked in the district for five years, said in his letter to the board that it had been brought to his attention that Board of Education members were not currently satisfied with his leadership in the area of teaching and learning.
However, Church asked the board to not accept his letter and instead renew his contract, allowing him to continue work for the benefit of students.
Most recently, Church was charged with implementing the state initiative Multi-Tier System of Supports in the district.
“Our implementation of the state initiative MTSS has the potential to truly reform our system to be even better for students,” his letter stated. “While I realize that the implementation has been challenging for all involved, we are only approximately 5-6 months into its full implementation. Change is difficult, but I believe that the structure of collaboration that we have in place and the changes that we were making for next year could have helped in the transition to this new system.”
Church’s resignation was accepted with a vote of 6-1 with Meyer in dissent.
The board accepted Sipe’s resignation with a vote of 5-2 with Thomas and Meyer in dissent.
Sipe, who has been with the district for two years, said the personal public attack in the past weeks left her “numb and full of sadness.”
Recently Sipe has been criticized for changes to the Early Childhood Special Education program. In February, it was announced the five lead teacher positions in the program would no longer exist next year. Instead, licensed special education teachers would be in charge of day-to-day planning. A paraprofessional will also be in the classroom.
“As funding concerns came to my attention in the early childhood program, I had and obligation to address those issue in a way that would protect the district and preserve its reputation,” Sipe’s letter stated. “That was the impetus for change in the lead teacher role. I did not feel that it would have been in the district’s best interest to make those funding violations public.”
Sipe said the district upholds the IDEA Assurances and state special education requirements.
Alvie Cater, district spokesperson, talked with director of budget and finance, Ken Larson, who was unaware of any funding violations.
Zoellner said the district was continuing to examine the Early Childhood program.
“A final determination has not yet been made,” she said.
Church and Sipe’s resignations are effective June 30.
Zoellner was present at Friday’s meeting but did not attend the executive session. Church and Sipe were not present at the meeting.
Friday’s resignations, coupled with several previously announced resignations, leave the De Soto district with several key administrative positions to fill. At the board’s April 20 meeting, it was recommended the superintendent create and advertise an associate superintendent of education services and an associate superintendent of business and operations, will be salaried through the contingency reserve funds.
Also at the April 20 meeting, the board recommended the nonrenewal of contract for director of policy and research, Joe Vitt. At a special meeting April 13, the board accepted the resignation of Mill Valley High School principal Joe Novak. Novak has worked in the district for 20 years.