The Plumas Unified School District superintendent and school board members were available to talk the morning after they agreed to part ways, but they weren’t saying much.
“We have a duty to confidentiality that we take very seriously,” said school board trustee Bret Cook, adding that he and the other board members would be able to share more after the “agreement becomes public.”
“When the agreement is finalized, I’ll be happy to share my personal plans,” said Superintendent Glenn Harris.
What the men are referring to is the separation agreement that both parties agreed to in principle during closed session at the April 18 school board meeting.
Following the closed session, school board president Chris Russell issued this statement: “The board took action, by a unanimous vote, to authorize a separation agreement between the district and superintendent that contemplates his resignation as district and county superintendent. The board has approved the terms and authorized the board to sign a final agreement subject to those terms.”
“We do have a separation agreement, but it is not finalized,” Harris said. “The attorneys are working on the details.”
However, what all parties involved could say was that the process had been cordial. Board member Bob Tuerck gives a lot of credit to the superintendent.
“This has been a pretty rough period,” Tuerck said. “Mr. Harris has come under attack both professionally and personally, but I am thoroughly impressed by how he has handled himself.”
Tuerck is also impressed by how the board conducts business. He said that members don’t always agree, but they work through the issues without any hostility.
“Everyone has been cordial and professional through the process,” Tuerck said. And it’s a process that isn’t over.
Following the closed session announcement, when asked about a timeframe, board president Russell said he thought it would take about a week.
During an interview Wednesday, Harris said that there is a seven-day grace period, during which both parties can consider the agreement.
When asked whether he will continue working in the interim, Harris responded, “My plan is to honor my contract. I will do the very best that I can for the district.”
As for what happens next, Harris said that he assumed the school board would begin a search for a new superintendent, but that he wouldn’t be part of the process.
“Now we have to hire a new superintendent on top of everything else,” school board member Sonja Anderson said last week. She is concerned that the board may be starting the process too late. “Finding a qualified person this late in the season isn’t going to be easy,” she said.
Tuerck said that the board has short-term as well as long-term needs. He said the board has discussed what will happen immediately following Harris’ resignation, but that it can’t be revealed until the separation agreement is signed. As for the future, “In my opinion we need to conduct an intense search to find a qualified superintendent to lead us into the future,” Tuerck said.
When asked if he had any particular qualifications in mind, Tuerck said he thought someone with charter school experience would be helpful, since some communities have expressed an interest in exploring that option more fully.
The school board is expected to conduct a special board meeting April 25 when the trustees will meet in closed session.
Board member Anderson said that while many in the community may be happy to see the superintendent leave the district, that won’t solve the problems that the district faces.
“We will still have to make these tough decisions,” she said.
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