Idaho’s largest school district began this week without a superintendent — and with no plan to name a successor to former Superintendent Linda Clark, who unexpectedly resigned Friday.
But by Tuesday morning, trustees planned to discuss West Ada’s leadership situation that night — behind closed doors.
Tuesday’s school board meeting came and went without any open discussion of a leadership transition plan or an appointment of an interim superintendent to lead the district. Instead, trustees devoted their meeting to the Nov. 3 supplemental levy election.
Board chairwoman Tina Dean declined to take part in a telephone interview Monday, but wrote in an email message to Idaho Ed News that the district has not agreed on a transition plan.
“The next step will be to discuss this situation in executive session,” Dean wrote. “I don’t know what will happen after that.”
On Monday morning, school trustees Mike Vuittonet and Russell Joki told Idaho Education News that the West Ada School District did not have a succession plan in place before Clark’s departure, and trustees have not appointed an acting or interim superintendent.
“Nope, nope and nope,” Joki said.
Vuittonet was out of town Friday when Clark announced she was leaving the district after 37 years, effective immediately.
“We need to get somebody put in place and it’s probably going to have to be somebody, obviously, internal,” Vuittonet said. “Somebody who understands district nuance and who has been there.”
Vuittonet is a Clark loyalist, and in Monday’s interview, he reaffirmed his support for the former superintendent. But he said he had no advance knowledge about Clark’s decision, and learned the news from a Facebook post.
“I would have been there (Friday), I am supportive of Dr. Clark,” Vuittonet said. “The course of events over the last 90 days-plus has been disconcerting and saddening. It’s been rough.”
Joki said the district has multiple options moving forward. He did not endorse a specific course of action, but one option is to appoint an interim superintendent and launch a search for a permanent successor. The district also could appoint a permanent replacement right away or appoint a non-educator as chief education officer.
From a legal standpoint, Joki said the district’s organization chart identifies assistant superintendent Barbara Leeds as second in command, and she could sign any legal documents the district needs to process while seeking a new superintendent. On Friday, Leeds told reporters she had not been approached about serving as interim superintendent.
“Dr. Clark, our former superintendent, walked off the job and left us unexpectedly,” Joki said. “Transition discussions have not been a part of any board deliberations.”