The Dayton school district has been called a house divided. that description came out more than once in the audio of a March 12th school board meeting during which more of the details which lead to the resignation of Jr/Senior High School principal Jamie Fluke were announced.
The meeting lasted two hours and 49 minutes. There were a lot of very candid comments made, which are typically reserved for executive session. However, legally, Fluke could request the comments be made in open session, and that’s what happened.
The board attempted to do an agenda review go into executive session under ORS 192.660, to consider the dismissal or review of a public official, or to hear complaints against a public officer, employee or staff member. Fluke was granted the option to discuss the matter in open session.
At the end of the meeting, the school board chairperson was heard telling the superintendent and the principal that they both have fabulous intentions for the district, but they have not been listening to each other for 20 months and they need to start working better together.
On March 12th, the school board was facing a March 15th deadline of voting to accept contracts and contract extensions, and that precipitated board involvement on whether to extend Fluke’s contract. Fluke was critical of Hay waiting until the 11th hour to provide a list of performance concerns a day before the board votes on extensions.
Principal Jami Fluke said she was blindsided by a three page document of areas where she needs to improve, given to her during what she assumed to be a regular meeting.
Fluke said the information was given to her 24 hours before it was going to be given to the board and she felt rushed into a decision. She has sought legal advice. Fluke said she resigned (but she will serve out her current contract) because that was the only way to keep a negative mark from being placed on her record.
Fluke questioned why she only had a 24 hour notice when certified and non certified staff have union protections. Hay stated that Fluke as a building administrator is not afforded the same protection under the union or employee law, that administrators are called to a higher standard.
Fluke felt the superintendent erred by not giving her more notice if he had serious concerns about her performance. Superintendent Jason Hay said they had discussion on numerous occasions.
Mention was made in the meeting of Fluke allowing a fellow supervisor to use a district credit card, a supervisor who was later given his own card.
There was discussion of Fluke’s trip to the Global Education Symposium, for which Fluke did not get superintendent’s approval. Fluke said, in the past, it was routine for her to go to meetings without getting the superintendent’s approval.
When questioned about the trip, Fluke said Hay took photographs of items from the trip and Fluke felt like she was being interrogated.Fluke said she feels like her integrity has been attacked, that she favors some students. She says there is no student that is more important than any other. “The process is awful. I feel like I have been shamed to feel like I am not good enough. I was wrestling with that. I give everything I have to my kids and my staff. We are a team.”
Fluke had applied for Hay’s job as superintendent before Hay was hired, but said she “is past that”, does not harbor a grudge and that is not prompting her current voicing of concerns.
“I have received positive feedback from other people, but no positive feedback from Jason. He told me that the 360 surveys that are my fault (which were split 50/50 support critical of superintendent)”
Superintendent Hay says he notices a chill in the air when he walks into some rooms. Hay says it is not his intention to force Fluke to leave, and he wants the district to work as a team.
At least one board member said the board is 100 percent behind the superintendent and there was a reason he was hired.
Hay said the district has a responsibility to the tax payers to improve how money is handled, and in some ways it has been lackadaisical.
Hay said “when we are looking at concerns over the last 18 months. I have to mitigate for risk on a number of things. I think we are at a critical time. I don’t think we could go one more year,without some acknowledgement and some consequences that come from certain behaviors and leadership.”
“I have to trust that we can move forward in a positive way. It’s not about me. How can we create a positive environment going forward”.
At the end of the meeting, Hay said “.this has been eye opening and informative…….at this point, there is nothing eminent…… Jami will be here through the end of next year. what i want to do is figure out what to do in the next year. We need to keep kicking over stones and see the creepy crawling things that are there. Maybe with the certified staff we need to air the issues”.
“A lot of things can come out of discussions like this, and it can be better.”
Hay mentioned started a leadership committee, possibly include representation from certified staff to help guide the district.
Fluke said emotionally she doesn’t feel safe, and feels Hay is looking for a way to get rid of her, however, wants to feel there is a way they can work together.
Fluke said maybe a third person could help (facilitate communication).
It appears Fluke’s resignation was offered, and legally accepted.
Discussion was made to list the job “in-district” only.
Hay said “…..where we are at…I very much want to move forward in a positive way, I want us to come together and be on the same team”.
Hay said. “I’m worried about us moving forward…… bottom line, is will we move forward and not have undermining conversations…… If we post a job in district. I think we have to acknowledge…..to look at what is our non verbal communication. the response I have gotten from you guys has been chilly. How do we all come together?”
Fluke responded “i hear you and i want to believe it, but your actions don’t match it.”
The boards direction was the two need to do a better job of working together and see what happens in the next year. Fluke asked if the job would be listed “in district” only.
The assumption is she may consider applying for that job, but that was not stated exactly in the discussion. Fluke’s contract does not expire until June 2020, at that time, it appears the job will be open.