IMBLER — A member of the Imbler School Board charged on Tuesday, June 1, the board had not been transparent while conducting its search for a successor to Superintendent Angie Lakey-Campbell, who is leaving to take a position leading the Hansen School School District near Twin Falls, Idaho.
Board member Dan McDonald made this charge prior to the board voting 4-1 to name Doug Hislop interim superintendent. Hislop, who served as Imbler’s superintendent from 2004 to 2014 before retiring, will serve as interim superintendent in 2021-22 beginning July 1.
McDonald voted against naming Hislop as superintendent because he said the selection process was not open enough. In a letter he read at the June 1 school board meeting before its vote, McDonald said he has great respect for all members of the school board but in his opinion the hiring process lacked transparency.
McDonald, who said he does not believe the school board did anything illegal or violated state rules, proposed that the vote on Hislop’s selection be canceled and that the school board reconsider its options. The board voted 4-1 against McDonald’s motion.
The school board named Hislop as interim superintendent after initially attempting to pursue hiring a permanent superintendent earlier this month. The board, though, decided to pursue an interim superintendent after interviewing three finalists because it did not believe it had a candidate with the experience needed or who would be the right fit for the school district.
Imbler School Board member Ken Patterson said on June 2 that he believes the board is transparent.
“We take a lot of pride in being transparent,” he said.
Patterson added that board members make a point of consulting state officials to make sure the board is following state rules when it is hiring and determining the appropriate way to follow processes.
McDonald, when citing examples of what he said was lack of transparency, noted that one of the finalists rejected an initial offer. He believes the public should have been told about this.
“We should have had an open meeting at that point to make our next move public,” he said.
McDonald also said that he was upset he was denied the opportunity to interview Hislop. He said the interview was conducted by the district’s hiring committee.
“I feel that at a bare minimum we owe an interview process to the school and community we serve,” he said.
McDonald also said he believed there was a conflict of interest issue since the hiring committee, which recommended Hislop to the school board, is composed of people who are employed by the Imbler School District.
“It is my belief there is a direct conflict of interest that exists within the hiring committee as it relates to the person being recommended to the board,” said McDonald prior to the board’s vote.
McDonald said he was thus recommending all voting members of the next hiring committee not be current employees of the school district. He said this would prevent conflicts of interest and possible division among the district’s staff. McDonald said it would be OK for employees to be on the hiring committee in an advisory capacity only.
Hislop is a lifelong school teacher and administrator. He was a teacher and principal in the La Grande School District for 33 years before serving as the superintendent of the Imbler School District starting in 2004.