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MEEKER I No one is saying why, but Doug Pfau, the first-year school superintendent, won’t return for a second year.
“All we can say is that nothing has been finalized, other than the board and the superintendent have initiated negotiations regarding termination of his contract,” said Mary Strang, president of the Meeker School Board. “That’s where we’re at.”
Citing confidentiality reasons, Strang said Saturday she couldn’t comment on why the board opted to terminate the superintendent’s contract.
“I can’t talk to you about that,” Strang said.
Pfau took a similar position. Responding to an e-mail message, he said, “I won’t be making any comments at this time.”
Asked if the superintendent’s controversial decision not to renew the contract of Hallie Blunt, who had been the Meeker High School girls’ basketball coach for the past nine seasons, had anything to do with the board’s decision, Strang said, “Nothing.”
Blunt, when asked if she had heard the news about the superintendent, said, “I am not surprised, I guess. I think, in terms of my position, it would have been nice had he stood his ground, if he was going to have to resign in the end anyway. He clearly didn’t know this was coming.”
Strang said Pfau will be placed on administrative leave, while attorneys work out the legal details.
“We haven’t finalized anything,” Strang said. “We have begun negotiations. He (Pfau) will be taking administrative leave, with full salary and benefits, beginning June 21. We’re honoring Doug’s request that this is the date it would start.”
Asked about the day-to-day duties of the superintendent, Strang said, “Susie Goettel, the executive/administrative assistant, has been handling things in that capacity. The superintendent has been authorized to work a flexible schedule, at his discretion, until the 21st. He’s agreeable to that. That’s all I can tell you. I can’t tell you anything else.”
At a regular meeting May 17, school board members went into executive session to discuss the superintendent’s evaluation.
Following is what was recorded in the minutes of the meeting:
“Mrs. Strang recommends that the Board of Education go into executive session for the purpose of discussion regarding personnel matters … The purpose of the discussion will be the superintendent evaluation. Those present at the outset of the executive session will be the members of the Board of Education, the secretary to the Board, and the superintendent as requested by the Board. The executive session convened at 8:45 and the regular meeting reopened at 10:45 p.m.”
At the same meeting, Goettel was recommended for an assistant superintendent’s contract.
School board members had two meetings last week. The first meeting occurred June 7, where, in executive session, the board met with the superintendent to review his evaluation. Following the first executive session, the board went into a second executive session to talk by telephone with its attorney.
“The first motion (for an executive session) was to discuss the superintendent’s performance evaluation,” Strang said. “The superintendent joined the board for that portion of the discussions. Then we conferred with legal counsel (in the second executive session) by telephone.”
Board members met again last Friday, and went into executive session.
“He (Pfau) was not (present at the meeting),” Strang said. “Just the board.”
Advance notice of the June 7 meeting was published in the Herald Times, but notice of the June 11 meeting was not received until after the paper was published.
At last Friday’s meeting, Strang said there was a “motion that he (Pfau) be placed on administrative leave until further action of the board.”
Regarding the length of time for the administrative leave, Strang said, “That’s open-ended.”
There was also a recommendation Friday to begin “negotiations regarding a severance package.”
Strang said both actions by the board — placing Pfau on administrative leave and instructing its attorney to begin negotiations for a severance package — were unanimous decisions.
Pfau, 45, came to Meeker from De Beque, where he had been the school superintendent for three years. Before that, he was superintendent for four years in Grover. Pfau replaced Dan Evig, who retired after five years as Meeker superintendent.
Pfau’s wife, Meg, was hired as a half-time business teacher in the Meeker School District, but has resigned her position. She previously taught technology at Grand Valley High School in Parachute. The Pfaus had three children in the Meeker school system, one at each school.
At the time Doug Pfau’s hiring in Meeker was announced in April 2009, school board president Strang said, “We’re elated. Doug and his family are a perfect fit for our district and community.”
Now, Strang said it was important for the school district to move forward in a professional manner.
“It will work out,” she said. “Nothing has been finalized. We’ve just begun negotiations. That’s all we can say.”