SEQUIM — Jane Pryne, the interim superintendent for Sequim School District, will leave her post on Dec. 31.
She announced her decision to step down in the middle of the school year in an email to school district parents and staff on Wednesday.
The Sequim School Board was aware of her decision about a week earlier, said Brandino Gibson, board president, on Thursday.
Gibson said he could not speak to her reasons for her decision but opined that false things said about her on social media contributed.
“A person can only take so much ridiculous public criticism for absolutely no reason,” Gibson said.
“She came to us and filled a hole for us and was doing an amazing job.”
Pryne’s decision comes as the district seeks a permanent replacement as superintendent. Then-superintendent Robert Clark resigned following a complaint in October 2020 that put him on administrative leave. (In late March, a district employee filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against Clark that has yet to be resolved.)
Pryne, who had retired from her position as Port Angeles School Superintendent, agreed to serve as interim superintendent on Oct. 26, 2020 and then re-upped for another year at the board’s request in February.
Controversy has followed the district recently. Multiple complaints by current district employees have been filed against the Sequim School District.
The board last month delayed a vote on the proposed censure of board member Jim Stoffer — who was awarded a 2021 Community Service Award last week — for allegedly violating board policy in regard to a complaints against the district, and in September, a board meeting was called off early because of a dispute over masks with audience members.
Board members will discuss replacing Pryne during their Monday night meeting, Gibson said, but he doubts any decisions will be made then.
A full-time person won’t be in place until the search for a permanent superintendent is completed, he said.
In the meantime, “we will have to do some quick calls and find someone to fill that spot on an interim basis. … Unfortunately, it will fall on the new board to figure that out.”
It’s unclear who would lead the district in Pryne’s absence; Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Maughan was placed on administrative leave in mid-September after alleging acts of discrimination/retaliation against her by Pryne.
“It has been my great honor to serve the students, staff, and community of Sequim as your Interim Superintendent,” Pryne said in the email she issued Wednesday.
“One of my fundamental beliefs is that the Board of Directors and Superintendent must work together as a cohesive team for the common purpose of providing the best possible education for the students of the Sequim School District,” she said.
Pryne added, “I have endeavored over the last 13 months to provide the leadership necessary for our schools, but I have concluded that it is time for someone else to fill this role.
“It is with a heavy heart, but hope for the District’s future, that I am announcing I will step down from my position on December 31, 2021.”
Gibson said that those school board who will be in attendance on Monday night “are in high support of her staying as superintendent but we will sadly support her decision to step down if she feels it is right.
“She is a bright spot,” he added.
Pryne was one of two candidates for the Sequim School District’s superintendent position in 2019. She became the Port Angeles district superintendent in 2009 after serving seven years as superintendent of a district in the Tucson, Ariz., area and a year as interim superintendent in another Tucson-area district. She retired from the Port Angeles School District at the conclusion of the 2013-2014 school year.
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 [email protected].
Peninsula Daily News Executive Editor Leah Leach contributed to this story.