New Oregon Senate Bill could protect superintendents from being fired without cause

Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 1:06 PM PST
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OREGON (KPTV) – A new bill working its way through the Oregon Senate may offer protection to school superintendents fired without cause by their school boards.

During the past year, a handful of school boards in Oregon have fired their superintendents over disagreements on COVID-19 mandates and other controversies such as LGBTQ+ Pride and Black Lives Matter signs.

Just last year, the Newberg School District fired superintendent Joe Morelock. Morelock was fired in a vote by four school board members who had previously gained public attention for a controversial ban on what they considered “political symbols” including the LGBTQ+ Pride and Black Lives Matter signs.

Proposed Senate Bill 1521 states school boards could only fire superintendents without cause if certain conditions are met. For example, the superintendents and board would have to agree to the prospect when they initially drew up the superintendents’ contract.

The board would also be required to give the superintendents a 12 month notice of their termination.

The Oregon School Board Association told FOX 12 they currently support the bill in its current form.

“We think it strikes a reasonable balance as far as providing some stability for district leadership staffing while still allowing school boards the latitude they need to choose the right leader for their community,” the OSBA said.

Newberg was not the only city to fire its superintendent in Oregon due to a board ruling.

The Greater Albany Public Schools board fired its superintendent this past summer in what also appeared to be a battle over differing opinion in a politically divided district.

In Malheur County in the city of Adrian, the school board fired its superintendent who reportedly said while he didn’t like Gov. Brown’s mask mandates, he would continue to follow them.

If the new Senate Bill becomes law, a district can not direct a superintendent to ignore or violate state or federal guidelines and a superintendent cannot be fired for following the law.