The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Justin Jaech
The Times 

Special School Board meeting after tragic week

 


DAYTON- The Dayton School Board convened a special board meeting at 7 p.m., May 9, 2022. The meeting was held in the Dayton High School auditorium and on Zoom. All school board members were present in person, Aneesha Dieu, Zac Fabian, Grant Griffen, Jeffrey McCowen, and Korinda Wallace. The superintendent, Guy Strot, was also present.

The first agenda item was the superintendent/principal search. Strot said two paths were open to the board, either hire a permanent Superintendent/Principal or hire an interim one-year Superintendent/Principal. This would allow for a more thorough search early next year, including community involvement, for the permanent replacement. To find a permanent hire at this point only allows for six weeks to find a replacement.

McCowen said his preference was to seek an interim replacement.

The board discussed how to write a job description for the new position and how the new hire would be expected to divide their time between the two jobs. They agreed that the principal position probably would require most of the new hire’s time. Strot reminded the board that the principal’s position would require hiring someone with the proper credentials, whereas no such requirement existed for the superintendent position. Strot said it was too late in the year for ESD 123 to assist in the search.

Dieu said about the board, “we do have at least a few interims that would be potentials already that have very good backgrounds, so I think that’s definitely a good option.”

McCowen clarified that “the board has had, I’ll call it, some distant contact with a handful of individuals. They may or may not have history within the district that may or may not go back twenty or thirty years. There are a lot of people that may be in a position to help us.”

Griffin said the board needs to develop a job description, agree on it, send it to the interested individuals, and see if they are interested. If that doesn’t work, they need to find a head-hunter to help fill the position. Strot said he would work on a job description, saying he would have it done by Wednesday night.

The board briefly discussed the Character Strong curriculum, which it is considering purchasing. Such a program might help improve the culture in the school. The board deferred the purchase of the program until a representative from the company selling the curriculum could join a board meeting and brief the board members.

During the public comment period, County Prosecuting Attorney Dale Slack asked what the district was doing to address and react to the student’s death last week. He wondered if it was possible for grief counselors to come in and if there was a concerted effort to make sure the other students were okay.

McCowen and Strot said the school made a special effort to identify students who might have been affected by the tragedy. McCowen reached out to a local fire chief to find resources that might help the students, and these resources made themselves available to the students. Kristie and Sam Korslund have been working with the students and making personal contact with many of them daily.

A high school student told the board of her own experience in a potentially similar incident. She felt abandoned after her incident, saying councilors did not make a strong enough effort to address her problems. She felt the same thing was happening with this more recent incident.

Strot said when asked the following day that the school would continue to use the contacts established through the fire chief to try and develop protocols, but full-time grief counselors were probably out of reach in the school’s budget. He will investigate state mental health funding available to the county to see if a solution can be found to provide effective emergency suicide prevention and grief counseling available to all ages.

Finally, at about 8:16 p.m., the board went into an executive session to discuss an employee’s performance with no action anticipated afterward. At 9 p.m., the executive session was extended thirty minutes, and another 15 minutes at 9:30 p.m., ending at 9:37 p.m. The meeting was adjourned.

Most of the evening’s meeting time was spent in executive session, consistent with board meetings since January.

 

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