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Marshall Board of Education terminates contract of superintendent

Friday, January 18, 2008

Editor's note: This article has been updated Monday, Jan. 21, to include more information.

The Marshall Board of Education voted Thursday, Jan. 17, to terminate the contract of Superintendent Rob Gordon, according to a document released by board President Jay Barton just before noon Friday, Jan. 18.

Barton said the board made the decision following the public due process hearing held Thursday at Bueker Middle School.

The eight-page document titled "Findings of fact, conclusions of law and decision" concludes:

"Based on the forgoing Finding of Fact and Conclusions of Law, the contract or contracts between the Board of Education of the Marshall School District and Dr. Robert Gordon are terminated effective immediately."

The document is signed by all members of the board except Larry Godsey and is dated Jan. 17.

Gordon announced Friday morning, Jan. 18, that he was retiring from the district.

The board's decision was faxed to Gordon's attorney, Douglas Hennon, Friday morning, Barton said. Hennon was scheduled to be in court at 9 a.m. and it's not known when he received the document or when he notified Gordon.

Barton said Friday the decision was a very difficult one for him, noting that he was on the board when Gordon was hired and had become friends with him.

"I admired and respected the work that he did," Barton said. "I was one of his most strident proponents. That's what made this process hard for me."

Budget management problems aside, Gordon will leave a fine legacy with the district, according to Barton.

"There are programs Dr. Gordon implemented that have been huge successes," he said, pointing to the professional learning communities approach and the after-school program as two examples. "He's to be credited for those programs."

Barton said he believed the board was committed to continuing those efforts.

"But that doesn't nullify the fiscal issues that were just glaring," he said, referring to the charges of budget mismanagement the board levied against Gordon.

Barton said he was surprised and disappointed that Gordon left the public due process hearing Thursday, Jan. 17, after delivering a prepared statement.

"I was hoping ... he was going to testify under oath. I wanted to hear the evidence so we could decide for ourselves," he said. "They could have brought witnesses and documents, but they didn't."

He also disagreed with Gordon's claim that the board had made a "public spectacle" of him.

"It was not the board's decision to make a spectacle," Barton said. "When he requested the hearing, we released the charges."

He noted that district policy requires that a due process hearing requested by professional staff be public.

Following Gordon's departure from the hearing, the board heard testimony from Deputy Superintendent Rick Radford, who explained budget problems he discovered and said that Gordon did not address the problems or tell the board about them.

Barton acknowledged that Radford approached board members late last summer with information about budget problems.

Radford explained during the hearing that he began documenting budget problems when it appeared to him that Gordon was not correcting them nor informing the board about them.

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Contact Eric Crump at marshalleditor@socket.net

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While I think Dr. Gordon should be held accountable for his actions, I think that the ENTIRE district, including the school board, should be held accountable for all of the additional administrave staff that the district has. The amount of money that has been spent on the extra Assistant Superintendents, Elementary Principals, District Liasion(s), and various other positions is unacceptable. Maybe we should ask as tax payers of the district that a major restructuring effort take place within the district. We truly need to get back to the issue at hand; EDUCATION OF OUR CHILDREN!!! Put the money in the classrooms where it can do the most good for the children! I understand that administration is necessary, I'm not denying that, but let's get a handle on the spiraling problem before our district self-destructs!

-- Posted by RedAngel on Fri, Jan 18, 2008, at 3:22 PM

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