District reinstates Sequim High School principal to position

Shawn Langston agrees to work with mediator to ‘build trust’

SEQUIM — Sequim High School Principal Shawn Langston will be back on the job when students come back to classes — most of them virtual — on Monday following winter break.

He has agreed to work with a mediator to “build trust” at the high school, Acting Superintendent Jane Pryne told district parents in an email Dec. 18 that did not say what he allegedly did to erode trust.

District officials have declined to specify what complaints were filed against Langston and Superintendent Rob Clark that prompted the administrators to be placed on paid leave — Clark on Oct. 22 and Langston on Oct. 23.

Officials have said only that complaints filed against the two men were separate and that law enforcement was not involved.

The district declined in November to fill a public records request from the Sequim Gazette, saying the administrators had a right to privacy “due to the highly offensive nature of the allegations.”

Earlier this month, district officials said they anticipated the investigations into complaints concerning the two administrators would be concluded by mid-January and records will be available for disclosure by the end of January.

School board members have approved Pryne’s recommendation to reinstate Langston to the position — without stating the cause of the investigation — and apparently have decided to follow attorney recommendations about Clark — without stating in open session what those recommendations were.

Pryne’s Dec. 18 email to parents/guardians of Sequim High School students said Langston had met with the district’s human resources director, Victoria Balint, to review the complaint investigation findings.

“It was clear from our conversation that Principal Langston appreciated the candor of those who provided testimony, and has made a commitment to do the hard work of partnering with a mediator to help bring reconciliation and healing to Sequim High School,” Pryne wrote.

“Principal Langston will work with a District-appointed mentor to better equip him personally to lead the staff of Sequim High School and build trust where it is lacking, re-build trust that is broken, and create unity where there is division. This is what has been asked of him, and this is what he has agreed to do.

“We are prepared to turn the page to a new chapter at Sequim High School in 2021.”

As for Clark, the school board on Dec. 22 apparently voted to follow legal council recommendations to resolve the situation regarding the complaint against him.

In a move that board President Brandino Gibson described as a somewhat bizarre conclusion to a meeting, board members came out of a closed executive session and unanimously voted to approve an unspecified action that was discussed in the executive session.

Board members did not discuss or elaborate on what they approved.

Only in a later interview did Gibson define what the vote was about. Discussion in executive session regarded the complaint and investigation regarding superintendent Clark.

“Basically it was to allow legal counsel, giving them authorization to move forward,” Gibson said.

“I am absolutely hoping the answer comes before Christmas or before the year is out,” he said.

The contract for Pryne as acting superintendent expires Thursday.

Were the board to not reinstate Clark or extend Pryne’s contract, the district would be left without a working superintendent in 2021.

Gibson expects the superintendent issue will be resolved at the board’s next regular meeting on Jan. 4.

He said he does not expect the district to have another special meeting before then.

Complaint investigations directed toward Clark and Langston were being handled internally through the district’s human resources department as well as risk management staff, Pryne said.

The Washington Schools Risk Management Pool provides insurance coverage and services to Washington state public schools.

________

Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

More in News

Air Force to clean up station

EPA plans to oversee Neah Bay operation

Appraisal for Short’s Farm less than port expected

Port of PT considering purchase to support local agriculture growth

Artwork by Sixkiller, contemporary Cherokee artist, is on display in House of Learning, Peninsula College Longhouse now through March.
Cherokee artist to speak on Grandma Spider

Contemporary Cherokee artist Karen Sixkiller will speak on “Rediscovering… Continue reading

Jefferson PUD plans to standardize broadband fees

Some internet providers in Jefferson County may see their… Continue reading

Port Angeles Community Award recipients gather after Saturday night’s fifth annual awards gala, including, from left, Joe DeScala, representing 4PA, organization of the year; Dr. Gerald Stephanz, citizen of the year; Tommy Harris, young leader of the year; Natalie Snow, Katelyn Sheldon and Andrea Dean, representing Welly’s Real Fruit Ice Cream, emerging business of the year; and Hayley Sharpe, owner of MOSS, business of the year. Not present was John Gallagher, educator of the year. The awards are produced by the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Sound Publishing. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Community awards distributed at chamber gala

Six categories featured as event returns in person

One hurt in wreck at 104-Shine intersection

A Poulsbo woman was treated and discharged from Harborview Medical… Continue reading

Brock Tejeda, a high school senior, fits together his carefully crafted pieces of wood to make a step stool just like the larger finished sample on the left. Port Angeles High School hosted a Skills USA Olympic Regional contest in the woodshop at the school on Saturday. The contest involved students making in eight hours from precise directions a small step stool using their skills and the shop’s many tools and machines. Joe Shideler is the woodshop teacher, but retired woodshop teacher Tim Branham was the enabler who brought the contest back to the school after a four-year COVID absence. There were five high school contestants including one girl. Skills USA sponsors over 50 skills across the country. PAHS participated in the carpentry and precision machinery areas. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
Skills contest

Brock Tejeda, a high school senior, fits together his carefully crafted pieces… Continue reading

Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group
About 100 people gathered in support of Sequim School District's proposed CTE building at Sequim City Council's last meeting. More than 20 people spoke in favor of the project in a public hearing.
Sequim council approves $250K for CTE facility

City’s contribution part of effort to raise $1 million

Monroe Athletic Field
Bidding opens for Monroe Athletic Field

Slated for completion this fall

Most Read