Hawkins to run Nyssa school district while board recruits an interim superintendent

NYSSA – As the Nyssa School District begins searching for a new superintendent, the board announced that Ryan Hawkins, the district’s assistant superintendent meantime would manage daily operations of the school district.

Ryan Hawkins, the district’s assistant superintendent, will oversee the district’s day-to-day operations, according to Pat Morinaka, the Nyssa School Board chair.

The board’s plans are to hire a short-term replacement to replace Johnson. It remains unclear when the district intends to hire a permanent superintendent.

The board met in a special planning session but only addressed hiring an interim superintendent once and then went into a closed session to discuss potential interim candidates and the replacement process.

During the open session, Morinaka told the board that the former superintendent of New Plymouth School District expressed interest in the temporary superintendent position. Another board member, Jeremy Peterson, suggested the board discuss the names of candidates in the closed session.

For the rest of the open session, the board discussed planning and goal-setting for the district.

In a Wednesday, July 19 Facebook post, the board wrote that its members were “fully aware of the impact any leadership change generates and understands that uncertainty can breed distrust.”

However, the board wanted people to know that it was working to bring on a new temporary superintendent. Meantime, the board asked people to “please respect the process.”

It is unclear what kind of hiring process the board has chosen to hire the new superintendent.

Under Oregon law, public bodies can meet in an executive session to “consider the employment of a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent,” the law says.

However, suppose the position to be filled is a CEO or public officer. In that case, the public body must first advertise the vacancy and then — in an open session — approve hiring standards, criteria, compensation and policy directives. It must also allow opportunity for public comment.

However, before heading into closed session Thursday, Crystal Rideau, the district’s business manager told the board the superintendent budget for the year has been depleted having paid out Johnson for the rest of the year. Whoever the board hires would be paid out of a contingency fund that would last for just a couple of months. Rideau did not say how much money was in the fund.

In addition to the district paying Johnson $137,486 for a year’s worth of pay, the district is also paying Johnson’s health insurance for the year, which will cost $19,400.

For his part, Hawkins said Thursday that although Johnson’s legal counsel countered Nyssa’s buyout offer with a request to be paid $30,000 for work he claimed he had done on the district’s online school, My Tech High, Hawkins maintained that in 2022 both he and Johnson would not take payment from their work on the online school.

After coming out of a closed session on Thursday, July 20, the board scheduled another planning meeting for Monday, July 24, at 8 p.m. in an open session before the meeting ended. It is unclear whether the board plans to discuss hiring another superintendent.

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