School board reveals very little about closed-door conversation

After a Lebanon Community School District Board executive session that lasted more than two hours on March 21, chair Russ McUne told a waiting crowd that findings of the executive session would be discussed at this month’s board meeting.

On Thursday evening, April 13,  McUne read an email from the district’s lawyer, Nancy J. Hungerford of the Oregon School Boards Association, regarding the outcome of the previous month’s closed session.

She said the board reviewed and responded to several complaints regarding district personnel during the March meeting.

“The board did not find that any actions of personnel had violated any policy or law,” Hungerford said. “One complaint raised issues about the board’s fulfillment of its duties in negotiating and approving a new contract for the superintendent.”

Hungerford said it has been the practice of LCSD and other districts for the superintendent to propose contract changes to the board.

Those changes were included in a board packet which board members were given a week before the meeting, she said.

“This proposed contract was similar to the previously negotiated contract written after previous negotiations between the board and Dr. (Rob) Hess,” she said. “The only changes were for the purpose of updating the term of the contract and the salary and benefits. After the one-week opportunity to review, the board ratified the contract. The board’s procedures were in accordance with district policy and state laws regarding the duties and authority of the board.”

Following Thursday’s meeting, McUne told a reporter that the district did not have the permission of the other district employee to comment, so more details of what the board talked about in the closed session could not be disclosed.

Board member Kellie Weber asked at Thursday’s meeting how much it saved the district to have Hungerford on speaker phone during the March 21 executive session.

McUne said it did not save the district money. He said Hungerford was unable to attend the meeting in person because of scheduling difficulties, so she was there by phone.

“It didn’t seem like she was there,” Weber said. “I don’t think we got our money’s worth. In the future, I don’t think that counts as having a lawyer there. I didn’t feel like we were represented.”

Board member Mike Martin suggested choosing a lawyer that is closer to Lebanon.

McUne said Hungerford is located in Oregon City.

Bringing up another matter, Weber said that she would like recognition of graduating students who sign up to join the military or go into first-responder fields.

During graduation ceremonies, a college a student will be attending is announced. Weber said she would like to see something similar for students who are going into the military.

“I think we need to celebrate those kids,” she said.

She also wanted to make sure students throughout the district learn the story of Sgt. 1st Class Scot R. Noss. The Pioneer School library is being named in his honor and he was just inducted into the Lebanon High School Hall of Fame (see page 10).

That topic will be added to May’s school board agenda.

Supt. Rob Hess said the Hall of Fame is in its fifth year and he would love to get information about all of the inductees to the schools in the district.