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School board to public: Hold on, response coming

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By Tris DeRoma

 

According to some members of the Los Alamos School Board, there will be a response issued by the board soon regarding Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt’s resignation.  

Schmidt announced his resignation to the school board Monday. In an article about the resignation, Schmidt remarked that he did not feel like he had the full support of the board as one of his reasons. He declined to go into specifics at the time. 

Since then, the public has wanted to know exactly what he meant by that, and has been looking to the school board for answers.

Board Secretary Matt Williams said through an email that though the law is clear about what they can and can’t discuss regarding personnel issues, and he is working with the other board members to at least give the public some kind of an answer.

“I’ve actually taken the rare action of having the rest of the board look over a list of the points I would like to make to the community to help them understand our processes. The laws that dictate that we are unable to make much of a statement right now also dictate what Board members may discuss in private,” he said. “I’d like to hear some feedback on those points before I release it to (the media).”

Williams went on to say he’s currently he’s waiting to get the other members’ approval. 

“Essentially there were two issues discussed in executive session, the evaluation and the renewal of the contract. I think it would be appropriate for the Board to release the items considered for the Superintendent’s evaluation and the process by which the evaluation was done. I’d just like to hear back from some other Board members before I release that as a public statement,” he said. 

At the last school board meeting, resident Morrie Pongratz spoke for many when, during the public opinion part of the meeting, he urged the board to come forward with some sort of response. “I think the voters of Los Alamos deserve an explanation and a listing of the non-personnel related expectations you have for a superintendent,” he said during the meeting.

School Board President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie gave a partial explanation Thursday, hinting that the media as well as the public were jumping to conclusions as to what happened during a series of closed door meetings concerning the superintendent’s performance review. 

She said the board never voted to renew Schmidt’s contract since Schmidt announced beforehand his decision to resign.

“I can tell you there was no vote. We had discussions with Gene, and he resigned,” she said. “If we had a vote, it would be in a public meeting, but since Gene resigned, we didn’t have to do that.”

She also said that some information may be released in the future, but the board also desires to protect the superintendent’s future career path.

“I don’t want to drag out any of the specifics we talked to him about. I respect him enough where I just want him to do well in the future and that’s where we’re at right now,” she said.