Clark quits as Sequim superintendent

Officials mum on cause

Dr. Robert Clark

Dr. Robert Clark

SEQUIM — Robert Clark has resigned as Sequim School superintendent, effective Friday.

Board members are expected to formally approve his resignation at a special meeting set for 2 p.m. today.

Jane Pryne, acting superintendent for the district, will assume interim superintendent duties through June 30, district officials announced Thursday.

“Dr. Clark and the Board of Directors have a disagreement over Dr. Clark’s style of management and decision making and Dr. Clark has elected to resign his employment in the best interests of the District, its staff and students,” school district officials said in an email sent to staff and students on Thursday.

The news was announced after the board had scheduled a special meeting for Friday to discuss a separation agreement.

Clark was placed on paid leave by the district on Oct. 22 pending the outcome of an investigation into a complaint. A day later, following what school officials say was a separate complaint, Sequim High School principal Shawn Langston was placed on leave.

Langston was reinstated in late December.

The district has declined to provide details of the complaint or investigation documents until later this month.

Dr. Robert Clark

Dr. Robert Clark

Clark said in a phone interview Thursday that he didn’t have a comment about the situation other than, “it’s been a long two-and-a-half months.”

District officials said in Thursday’s email that the board plans to hire a superintendent search firm at a regularly scheduled meeting in the near future.

Clark’s contract specified that he would be paid $155,000 for 2020-21.

In response to a public records request from the Sequim Gazette, the school district on Nov. 12 said via email it was withholding all records regarding both investigations, citing RCW 42.56.230 and indicating the records can be withheld because the documents containing the “identity of employee subject to an unsustained internal investigation of misconduct, release of which violate the employee’s right to privacy due to the highly offensive nature of the allegations.”

Both complaint investigations were handled internally through the district’s human resources department as well as risk management staff, Pryne said.

A former Port Angeles School superintendent, Pryne stepped in to Clark’s role for the interim; her first day was Oct. 26. She was one of two candidates for the interim Sequim School District’s superintendent position in 2019.

Clark previously worked as superintendent of the Milton-Freewater School District, just south of Walla Walla across the Washington-Oregon state line, a job he held since 2013.

He has also served as a superintendent in Washington state school districts, including the Quilcene School District,the Cascade School District in Leavenworth and the Rearden-Edwall and Washtucna school districts in Eastern Washington.

Clark was hired as interim superintendent after Gary Neal left in the summer of 2019. The “interim” aspect of his title was dropped in January 2020 when the board extended his contract with praise for his work.

In late 2019 and early 2020, Clark and a committee of staffers began putting the final touches on a capital projects levy proposal that the board recently approved to put before voters in February, alongside the renewal of the district’s education programs and operations (EP&O) levy.

Voters on Feb. 9 will consider a four-year, $15 million capital projects levy to address a number of building issues, as well as a four-year, $29.7 million levy that replaces Sequim’s current local tax and pays for core learning functions not supported in state’s basic education formula.

Clark was also at the helm of the district when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, overseeing the closure of classrooms in March and shift to remote learning at the closure of the 2019-2020 school year, as well as the return to in-person instruction for elementary grade level students in a hybrid model this fall before rising COVID-19 transmission rates forced another closure.

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