Superintendent to explore exit options with school board |

Superintendent to explore exit options with school board

by Scott Neuffer

After a contentious summer, Douglas County School District Superintendent Carol Lark may be looking for an exit.

On Tuesday, Lark declined to comment on rumors that she’s resigning, although two items on the agenda for next week’s school board meeting indicate the possibility.

At their Nov. 10 meeting, school board members are scheduled to discuss and take action on “the terms of a potential agreement with Superintendent Lark relating to her possible voluntary separation from employment with the district and the termination of her employment contract.”

Immediately after that item, board members will discuss a time frame for selection of an interim superintendent, in the event that Lark resigns.

Director of Human Resources Rich Alexander said Wednesday he had not received any kind of resignation letter from Lark.

“All we can do at this point is look for some direction from the board, and how they wish to handle this,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, Board President Cindy Trigg said the trustees “are not firing anyone.”

“It’s safe to say that she (Lark) is exploring her options,” Trigg said.

She said there has been no discussion on the outcome of the meeting with other board members.

“I’m depending on legal counsel to guide me,” she said. “I don’t want any rumors or innuendos. This is going to be a by-the-book process.”

Trigg said she doesn’t know whether Lark is planning to resign.

“That is something that has to be discussed between Carol and the full board in public,” she said. “I’m going to advocate whatever position appears to be in the best interests of students. We need to get back on track to educating our students. These kinds of issues, I call them adult issues, have been affecting our ability to do our job. It’s time to get back to paying attention to the kids.”

Trigg said the district lacks a policy regarding the transition of a new or leaving superintendent.

“There is no protocol or strategy for an interim superintendent,” she said. “It’s the first time in Douglas County, as long as I can recall, and we’ve needed to do it. The lack of transition policy for somebody new coming to this district has helped create the situation we’ve seen this last year.

“It’s something we’ve obviously learned, a big lesson. I’m willing to take responsibility as an individual board member for the lack of vision and knowledge on that part, not recognizing something we needed at the time. For the future, wherever a superintendent comes from, we do have to have something in place so the transition can be addressed ahead of time.”

Lark, who was hired in 2006, meet tough opposition over the summer. In June, her annual evaluation ignited public controversy regarding an ongoing conflict between her and employees at the district office. Although her performance was deemed satisfactory at that meeting, the issue of her contract extension was continued.

In August, Lark narrowly won the support of school board members who voted 4-3 to extend her $123,000-a-year contract until June 2011. The extension was later amended to include an improvement plan geared at resolving the issues between Lark and her staff, including the use of a professional mediator or mentor.

“I admire her ethics,” Trigg said of Lark, “her honesty, her morality, and overall her deep passion to do what’s best for kids, no matter what happens.”

The school board meets 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Douglas High School.