Chimacum superintendent claims harassment

Thompson placed on leave pending outside investigation

Posted 7/29/20

Chimacum School District Superintendent Rick Thompson has filed a complaint against the district that claimed he has been the target of “discriminatory harassment and defamation by school board …

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Chimacum superintendent claims harassment

Thompson placed on leave pending outside investigation

Posted

Chimacum School District Superintendent Rick Thompson has filed a complaint against the district that claimed he has been the target of “discriminatory harassment and defamation by school board members.”

Thompson was placed on paid leave while an investigation is conducted by an outside investigator.

School Board Chair Kristina Mayer announced the complaint at last week’s school board meeting, following an executive session with other board members.

“The district has received a complaint from Superintendent Rick Thompson, raising concerns of discriminatory harassment and defamation by school board members. Following regular protocol, the district has initiated a fact-finding investigation by an independent investigator,” Mayer said during the board meeting, which was held online due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

“While this process proceeds, the superintendent will be on paid administrative leave in order to help promote witness participation in the investigation and alleviate any concern of undue influence,” Mayer said.

“This is not disciplinary in any way. It is just a standard protective measure for the superintendent, the board and others involved,” she added.

Mayer said she has been talking with a retired superintendent who could take over as interim superintendent. 

Thompson could not be reached Monday for comment.

Mayer did not say when the complaint was made, and the district had not yet provided the complaint Tuesday in response to a request for the document by The Leader.

In an email Monday, Mayer she was “not at liberty to share any details” of the person hired to conduct the investigation, or how long it would take.

“We have been provided an attorney through the Risk Management Pool and an investigator has been assigned,” Mayer wrote.

Thompson has had a rocky relationship with Chimacum school’s rank and file for more than a year.

The Chimacum Education Association, along with other unions that represent school employees, cast votes of ‘no confidence’ in Thompson early last year. The president of the teachers union said in February 2019 that 92 percent of the district’s certificated educators cast votes of ‘no confidence’ in Thompson.

At earlier board meetings this year, school board members have talked about the process to replace Thompson.

Earlier this month, the Chimacum board notified the Port Townsend School District Board of Directors that it wanted to move forward with the board’s offer to coordinate searches for a new superintendent. The Port Townsend district is also planning on hiring a new leader later this year.

Chimacum hopes to have a joint meeting with both boards to discuss the idea in late August.

“We acknowledge that conducting searches at the same time does offer some unique opportunities to collaborate,” Mayer wrote in the letter to the Port Townsend board. “Given the unique nature of our two districts, it is entirely possible that a consultant may find working with both districts an attractive and interesting proposition that could result in mutual benefit and cost savings,” she added.

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