Updated: TRUS Board of Trustees votes to extend superintendent/principal’s contract

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The TRUS Board of Trustees met in special session Tuesday, February 17, at 6:30 p.m., via Zoom video conference. Members present included David Karplus (board president), Leeor Brown, Peter Mestaz, Anne Pfaff, and Sue Winters along with superintendent/principal Sue Sherwood and John Rodriguez, director of Human Resources for the Tulare County Office of Education. There were 55 members of the public in attendance for the meeting. TRUS Board of Trustees

During the public comment section of the meeting, 13 audience members spoke regarding the board’s recent decision not to renew Sue Sherwood’s contract for one more year as superintendent/principal. Nine commenters spoke in support of Sherwood with several urging the board to reconsider and to extend her contract for one more year. Three commenters spoke in support of the board’s decision to begin a search for a new administrator for the district. One commenter did not express a specific opinion on either side of the issue. TRUS Board of Trustees

After the conclusion of the principal’s report, the board moved into closed session at 7:31 p.m. to discuss two items. The first was to meet with with John Rodriguez of TCOE to finalize a job description announcement for the position of superintendent/principal and a possible motion. The second was in two parts with the first being a discussion and possible motion to renew Sue Sherwood’s contract; the second was a discussion to possibly extend her contract through December 2021 and a possible motion. TRUS Board of Trustees

After an extended period in the closed session, the board returned to open session at 9:48 p.m.  For part A of the closed session, a motion was made to have John Rodriguez of TCOE move forward with finalizing the job description advertisement for superintendent/principal with suggested changes. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.Part B on the closed session agenda was to review and consider revoting on the previous action of not renewing Sue Sherwood’s contract. The board took no action on this item. The second item was to consider extending Sherwood’s current contract through December 31, 2021. A motion was made to negotiate a new contract for the period July 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.

The move to negotiate a contract extension for Sue Sherwood is viewed as a compromise after considerable input from a segment of the public concerned with making an abrupt change during such an uncertain time. In essence, a new superintendent/principal will be hired by the district for the 2021 through 2022 school year, but Sue Sherwood will remain in her position and act as a co-superintendent/principal through December 31, 2021, in order to support the transition, help with completion of the school’s modernization project, and to provide assistance in setting up the office, library, and science labs.

In new business, the first item was a discussion and possible motion on the process for seeking legal advice; it was tabled to the next board meeting. The final item on the agenda was discussion and possible motion for approval of the School Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA). A motion was made to approve and was passed unanimously.The meeting was adjourned by board president David Karplus at 9:52 p.m. The next regularly scheduled board meeting is Wednesday, March 3, at 6:30 p.m., also via Zoom. The public is welcome to attend.

Update: We were unable to reach board president David Karplus for comment on this story. We have since received correspondence from him in which he provides the following statement: TRUS Board of Trustees

The board voted not to renew or extend Sue Sherwood’s current contract past June 30, but they are committed to having Sue work with the district for another 6 months to support the transition to the new superintendent. They have not yet negotiated the contract describing exactly what that support will look like, but you can expect to see the topic on upcoming board agendas.  At the meeting, Sue provided the board with a list of unfinished priorities, including this summer’s construction project. Completing these may be part of what the board and Sue agree will be her role in supporting the transition. The board welcomes any comments or ideas from the public about what the important topics are, along with ideas for how to address them. You can contact the board at board@3rusd.org.

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