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Mosier principal question remains unsettled

The budget for Mosier’s charter schools may be settled, but Mosier Community School will begin the new fiscal year with its principalship in question after its board had a tie vote on whether to renew the contract of current principal David Sather.

Board co-chair Monica Reid informed the audience during the June 18 meeting that executive director Carole Schmidt had recommended that the board not renew Sather’s contract. The board did not discuss the reasons for the recommendation in open session.

When asked the reasons for her recommendation, Schmidt declined to go into detail beyond telling The Chronicle that “the board asked me to make a recommendation and I made a recommendation. My priority, as always, is doing what’s best for Mosier School.”

After a vote was called, Reid, Steve Salmon and Stephen Schwiff voted to follow the executive director’s recommendation for non-renewal while Linda Matthisen, Ron Carroll and Robert Teskey voted to keep Sather. Board member Rachel Mortensen was absent and unreachable by phone.

After the vote Reid announced that the board would “have to investigate what happens next” and the board took no further action on the issue during the meeting. The board’s next scheduled meeting is in August.

Sather declined to comment on the matter.

Parent Davina Craig, who was present at the meeting, told The Chronicle she thought the move to try to get rid of Sather was “unfair.” She pointed out that before the 2013-2014 school year begins Schmidt will be officially retired and Brian Schimel, who has been working as an elementary school principal in Hermiston, will take up the executive director post. She suggested Schmidt’s recommendation might be based on a personality conflict and said she would like to see Schimel have a chance to work with Sather.

“There’s a formal process in place to follow if they have concerns, and I think this is out of protocol,” she said.

If director Ron Carroll had gotten his way earlier in the night there would not have been a tie vote. He reminded the board that Shwiff had sent an email to all of them on May 24 resigning “effective immediately” and said that Shwiff should not have a vote at the meeting.

Reid told Carroll that after Shwiff sent his email the co-chairs asked him to put off his resignation until the end of the June 18 meeting, where they could discuss replacing him. Salmon read from the charter board’s bylaws stating that a director’s resignation takes place 30 days after their letter of resignation is submitted unless the board votes to accept an immediate resignation. He said the board had not voted to accept an immediate resignation and therefore Shwiff was legally a board member until June 24. The rest of the board overrode Carroll’s objections to Shwiff’s participation.

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