MARYSVILLE, Wash., February 2, 2022 – Marysville School District is one step closer in its search for a new superintendent after completing its application process in January. The district, which placed Superintendent Jason Thompson on leave last spring, began its search in November 2021.
This last year has been one of tumult for the Marysville School District which faced racist death threats, disruptions at school board meetings, and a Thin Blue Line flag controversy that made national headlines. In the meantime, the district’s Superintendent Jason Thompson has been on leave since early spring 2021 while receiving $21,629.85 monthly separation pay.
Thompson’s leave of absence came shortly after he accused the district of creating a hostile work environment, a claim investigators deemed unfounded. Interim Superintendent Chris Pearson has stood in for Thomspon since the spring. Four superintendents have come and gone since 2018, making the new hire the district’s fifth in under four years.
To find the new hire, Marysville has outsourced its superintendent search through GR Recruiting, an educational recruitment firm whose team member Dr. Kristine McDuffy previously served as superintendent of the Edmonds School District. McDuffy retired from her Edmonds position in 2020 and will lead the superintendent search in Marysville.
The initial steps in the search included a feedback survey, which aimed to give community members a voice in the process. To accommodate Marysville’s diverse community, the survey was offered in English, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese.
The district announced the survey on its website and in the school board meetings but not on its social media sites where the district has a combined following of 17,741.
Of the 251 survey respondents, Marysville staff comprised 61%, and parents of current students comprised 35%. No students participated in the survey. Other respondents included parents of a future student (6%), community members (24%), board members (1%), and others not identified (5%).
The survey first asked participants to describe their feelings about the district in one word. “Disappointed” and “frustrated” were among the top responses.
When asked if they would recommend the district to a friend or colleague, 82% answered negatively while only 2% responded positively.
The survey also asked participants to rate various aspects of the district, including its transparency. Over half of the respondents, the majority of whom are employed by the district, rated the district’s transparency as “poor.”
While the survey indicates that many community members are looking for improvements in the district, School Board President Paul Galovin suggests a new superintendent may not be a “fix-all” for the district.
“They want a lot of change,” Galovin said. “We’re gonna try to impact that change by finding that next superintendent that’s going to be able to represent the community, and fight for our teachers and students to succeed.”
The survey respondents also indicated the critical issues they believe the new superintendent should focus on. The top responses included student support services (49%), equity and diversity (43%), academic rigor (41%), and social/emotional learning (41%).
The full results of the survey are available on the district’s website.
The application process began in early January, and GR Recruiting will begin its first round of interviews in an executive session with the school board on February 4. Before the session, GR Recruiting presented its top candidates to the Board of Directors after screening applications and checking references.
The community will be able to give input during the second round of interviews on February 14-15, according to the Marysville website.
The board plans to select its new superintendent on February 23.