Updated on Thursday, June 4 with new information on complaints filed by the Middleton Education Association.
The Middleton School Board on Wednesday night accepted the resignation of Superintendent Sherawn Reberry, but trustees were split on who should run the district until her replacement is hired.
The board spent three-and-a-half hours in executive session during an emergency meeting called to address Reberry’s resignation, which trustees received Tuesday. The public was only permitted to watch the last five minutes of the meeting, where the board voted to approve Reberry’s resignation and to appoint district HR manager Kristin Beck as acting superintendent.
“I would like to publicly thank (Reberry) for all she’s done for this district,” trustee Marianne Blackwell said. “She’s a woman of integrity, and I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”
The district didn’t address Reberry’s reason for resigning, and Reberry has not returned EdNews’ requests for comment. She had been the district’s superintendent for 10 months, hired last year to replace Josh Middleton, who left after an uproarious 2018-2019 school year. In his resignation, almost exactly a year ago, Middleton said elected officials in the district had created a “hostile work environment.”
Reberry’s first year in the district seemed calm compared to the turbulence of Middleton’s last. During the 2018-2019 school year, the district drew international ire for a viral picture of school district staff in stereotypical Mexican costumes that many considered racist. Students and staff also protested a decision not to renew the contract of former high school principal Ben Merrill. Three of the district’s board members faced a recall after that school year but kept their seats. Merrill was recently hired as the superintendent of the Kamiah School District.
Events of the past two weeks indicate some turmoil continues in Middleton.
Reberry went on personal leave on May 27, the district said in a news release, then submitted her resignation letter to the board days later. The local teacher’s union lodged two complaints with the school board in recent weeks, first accusing the board of wrongly discussing union negotiations in executive session, then for appointing a school board member to act as superintendent during Reberry’s absence — something union members consider a violation of district policy.
In a letter to the Professional Standards Commission, the Middleton Education Association accused the school board of “unethical and unprofessional behavior.”
Neither the union nor school board chair Kirk Adams responded to EdNews’ requests for comment on the complaints, but on Thursday night union president Dave Stacy said he planned to drop the Professional Standards Commission complaint. In a news release, he said he didn’t believe there was “ill intent” on the part of the trustees.
Wednesday’s board meeting pointed to tension between school board members as well.
After ending executive session, Blackwell said publicly that her fellow trustee Aleisha McConkie “broke confidentiality” when McConkie’s husband intruded on the executive session. Most of the trustees had called into the meeting, which was streamed on the district’s YouTube channel.
Then there was the split decision to appoint an interim superintendent. Adams, McConkie and trustee Derek Moore voted to make Beck the acting superintendent.
Blackwell and trustee Briggs Miller said they wanted an interim superintendent from outside of the district.
“There are a lot of allegations and suspicions under our current conditions,” Blackwell said. “I believe we need an outside interim until we get things clearly figured out.”
Board members did not elaborate on Blackwell’s cryptic statement. Blackwell and Miller were overruled by the votes of the other three board members. Beck will become the acting administrator until the district finds a new superintendent.
“It’s in the best interest of the district to keep the people that are here continuing,” McConkie said. “We have so much to get done and not a lot of time to do it. We need to keep moving forward.”
On Tuesday, the Middleton community rejected the district’s request for a two-year, $3 million supplemental levy. And Adams lost his challenge to unseat Rep. Tammy Nichols in a Republican legislative primary. The trustees did not discuss the outcome of the supplemental levy during the special meeting, according to a press release.