The Mount Shasta Union School District has yet to decide if they’ll hire a part time assistant principal for the upcoming school year, and their May 10 board meeting got a little heated when board members discussed the situation.

The Mount Shasta Union School District has yet to decide if they’ll hire a part time assistant principal for the upcoming school year, and their May 10 board meeting got a little heated when board members discussed the situation.

Frustration was sparked on both sides of the debate as board members Paul Schwartz, John Duncan, Leslie Cole, Chuck Rosecrantz and Jean Nels and superintendent Kathi Emerson talked about a possible Brown Act violation that occurred while trustees were investigating the impact such a hire would have on the teaching staff.

During the board’s April 12 closed session, a board member suggested it might be beneficial for trustees to attend a teacher’s meeting on April 20 to get input from staff, Emerson explained.

It ended up that Nels, Cole and Schwartz attended the meeting, though they didn’t sit near one another or speak to each other during or after the meeting, Emerson said.
Nevertheless, this was technically a violation of the Brown Act since three board members constitute a quorum, said trustee Duncan, who brought the issue to attention.

Though the intent was not malicious, Emerson said the wisest thing to do is to treat the situation as a Brown Act violation.

To correct such a violation, the board would need to reverse any related decision, hold an open discussion about the item in question and review the Brown Act.

In this case, no decision had been made and there was already a public discussion planned about the possible assistant principal hire, Emerson said.

Duncan said he is confident the violation was unintentional, however, he felt it was his duty to bring the issue forward so it could be righted.

The debate
Emerson put forward a plan last month that would have hired a person to spend half their time assisting the principal and the other half as a Resource Specialist.

Emerson said she recommended the idea because it would not increase class sizes or impact the budget. It would be funded by reducing district’s intervention program by one half time position and adding a person who would spend half their time in intervention and the other half as assistant principal.

On Tuesday, Duncan suggested the teachers should meet with next year’s new principal Kale Riccomini to decide if an additional administrator is needed. He added that he believes teachers weren’t able to have their say on the subject, and disagreed with his fellow trustees’ decision to attend their meeting.

When Cole, Schwartz and Nels questioned Duncan, he said he felt like he was “talking to a wall” during the April 12 closed session and asked why they felt it is their right to go to a staff meeting at all.

Nels said she heard no opposition from Duncan at the time of the initial conversation.

After a short disagreement, the trustees decided to let the topic lie, as it was not adding anything productive to the meeting.

Schwartz said he thinks it would be best to hire an assistant principal now to ensure Riccomini gets all the support he needs from the beginning. He added that this year’s situation with one principal between both sites was intended as a one year fix and not permanent solution.

Duncan argued that because of the Brown Act violation, teachers did not feel comfortable stating their true feelings, and the entire process had been tainted.

“We need to start all over,” Duncan said, urging the board to gather more input and schedule another discussion item at their next meeting before taking any action.

Board members Cole and Nels asked Emerson for her input.

Emerson said she believes this is a situation that needs to be settled as soon as possible, and she’s concerned with how this ongoing and unresolved issue is “building momentum” and negatively affecting teachers and other staff members.

They also asked current principal Sally Gasaway for her opinion.

Gasaway said she cannot do her job effectively without more support, and believes hiring a part time administrator would be a good option for next year.

“If my job is done well, my work goes unseen,” Gasaway said. “I?mean no disrespect to any program or staff member, but I don’t think anyone could understand everything a principal’s asked to do until they do it themselves.”

Emerson said so far, she’s received 30 or more written responses from staff members, which are “all over the map.”

While some teachers agree with the idea to hire a part time assistant principal, others are against it. Many others gave suggestions of ways the district could save money or increase funding.

Emerson said she feels the board should consider staff input, but ultimately this is a decision that must be made by the board and administrators.

When all was said and done, the board agreed to discuss the item further during their next board meeting on June 14. If they come to a consensus, they’ll take action at a special meeting tentatively scheduled for June 21.

In other business, the board:
•?Said goodbye to longtime housekeeper Sherry Peterson, who is retiring.
• Heard a Physical Fitness Report from PE teacher Stacia Hardy.
• Talked about creating a board policy for animals in the school, as per request from the district’s insurance carrier.