CHIMACUM — Chimacum School District’s superintendent has filed a complaint saying members of the school board discriminated, harassed and defamed him, and the board has placed Rick Thompson on administrative leave while the matter is investigated.
Following an executive session portion of the Chimacum School Board meeting Wednesday night, Board Chair Kristina Mayer read a statement regarding the complaint and actions being taken.
“The district has received a complaint from Superintendent Rick Thompson, citing concerns of discriminatory harassment and defamation by school board members. Following regular protocol, the district has initiated a fact-finding investigation by an independent investigator,” Mayer said.
The investigator is Noel Treat, senior vice president and general counsel of Strategies 360 based in Seattle.
As part of the investigation protocol and in an effort to alleviate concerns about influence, Thompson has been placed on paid administrative leave until the conclusion of the investigation, Mayer said.
“This is not disciplinary in any way,” Mayer said. “It is just a standard protective measure for the superintendent, the board and others involved.”
The statement did not say who, specifically, has been accused of making defamatory statements against Thompson.
Thompson did not respond to requests for comment.
District officials are speaking with a retired superintendent to fill the position in the interim, but the board will not announce who it is until the party has signed an agreement.
The Chimacum School District has been searching for a superintendent to replace Thompson when his contract ends at the end of the upcoming school year.
In 2019, the board voted not to renew Thompson’s contract and the Chimacum Education Association levied a no-confidence vote against him, citing lack of vision, respect, transparency and a rapid decline in enrollment.
Last month, Chimacum board member Jack McKay applauded Thompson’s leadership through the school year as the district navigated the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
McKay asked that the board cease its search for another superintendent and extend Thompson’s contract through the 2021-22 school year. The motion failed in a 2-2 vote.
McKay resigned during Wednesday’s meeting, effective immediately. His resignation letter says he and his family are moving from Port Ludlow out of the district.
“During my three years on the school board, it has been an honor and privilege to meet so many patrons, parents, students, teachers, staff, and administrators of the Chimacum Schools,” McKay said in his resignation letter.
“I will continue to be an advocate of the Chimacum Schools since I truly believe it is one of the outstanding school districts in the state.”
Ken Park can be reached at email@example.com.