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Christina school board puts Superintendent Shelton on leave

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After nearly five years of service, Superintendent Dan Shelton has been placed on administrative leave by the Christina School District Board of Education.

After nearly five years of service, Superintendent Dan Shelton has been placed on administrative leave by the Christina School District Board of Education.

Dan Shelton, voted Delaware’s Superintendent of the Year just two years ago, has been booted from Christina School District.

In a meeting that started 40 minutes late Tuesday night, lasted about seven hours and wrapped up right before 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, the board argued the night away and finally voted, 4-3, to put Shelton on administrative leave. 

Legally, board agendas have to shield specific employees under the title of personnel or administrative recommendations, but public comment revealed the employee was Shelton, who started in the district in 2020. 

The whole meeting was consumed by this subject, with a lengthy public comment section where the majority of speakers expressed support for Shelton. 

After public comment, during which board members are not allowed to respond or engage in conversation, other district matters were focuses on before a long discussion by the board that was chock-full of points of orders.

After moving away from the matter again, the board circled back later and a motion to remove Shelton squeaked by 4-3. 

RELATED: Education group details school board agendas, legal rules

The district leadership has been tumultuous and divided the past few months, with some calling to remove Shelton and Don Patton, board president. 

Now, it faces the Department of Justice, which will be monitoring the district’s board meetings for the next year, a seemingly unprecedented move, due to concerns that the board is violating the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rules.

All this has led to some in the education space labeling the district’s administration and board as “dysfunctional.”

RELATED: Dept. of Justice to monitor Christina SD Board for 1 year 

The justice department alleges there was an unlawful executive meeting — those are not open to the public — held by the board in the spring.

“There has been an assertion that we had an improper meeting based upon us taking an executive session on that May 7 meeting, and that is not true,” said Board Vice President Alethea Smith-Tucker. “I actually made a motion to recess, which means you could take a break to caucus versus going into executive session. So our attorney will be, based upon the board, deciding to make sure that the Department of Justice updates and has corrected and reflected the actual occurrence that took place on May 7.”

The final vote to remove Shelton took place at 2:46 a.m. with Board President Don Patton joined, Smith-Tucker, Y.F. Lou and Naveed Baqir voting to place him on leave.

All of the points of order are related to Robert’s Rules of Order, which is a longstanding method of parliamentary procedure. It creates a structure for speaking order, how to properly vote with first and second motions, and more.

With every vote pertaining to the ousted superintendent, Board Member Douglas Manley called a point of order, claiming Baqir is not allowed to vote.

Baqir has been out of the country for months and has attended meetings virtually, and Manley repeatedly claimed that he doesn’t live within the district.

Most districts designate their monthly July meeting as the time for reorganization, where board leadership is once again voted on and any new board members are sworn in.

Just like the vote on Shelton, there were several votes who would fill the roles of board president and vice president.

There was less discussion over actual policy and how to help student achievement, and more yelling about points of orders and a musical chair of people throwing names out to nominate a president and VP.

For example, at one point Board Member Monica Moriak nominated Amy Trauth – who was just sworn in to her seat – as vice president.

It was seconded by Manley, but then Smith-Tucker called a point of order. Before she could even finish saying why she called a point of order, Trauth, who attended the meeting virtually via Zoom, shouted “I spoke first.”

“No, no you didn’t” Smith-Tucker said.

“Thanks Smith-Tucker, I spoke first, thank you,” Trauth said.

“Well clearly-” Smith-Tucker started to say before “I did though, thank you so much” Trauth interrupted.

“But I really appreciate Dr…Truth, I mean Trauth,” Smith-Tucker said, before Trauth jumped in.

“It’s ‘trout’, like the fish, it’s ‘trout’ like the fish, Dr. Trauth Miss Smith-Tucker,” Trauth said.

That short and aggressive exchange between the board members was emblematic of most of the personnel discussion Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

Trauth, who was one of the supporters of Shelton, said his removal will have a long-term negative impact on attracting teachers and administrators, almost like a stain on the district.

“It’s going to tank the school district and set us up for another 20 years of trying to dig out from a terrible reputation that is the making entirely of this board,” Manley said.

Patton and Smith-Tucker were eventually voted to stay in their roles as president and vice president, respectively, for the 2024-2025 school year.

It’s not particularly clear why Shelton voted out.

Patton said he had a list of 8 details to why the board is choosing to not renew Shelton’s contract.

However, he didn’t share the list for what he noted were legal privacy reasons, although he was pressed by some board members to tell the public what was on the list.

“You can clap, you can yell, you can scream, you can do all you want to…

Read More: Christina school board puts Superintendent Shelton on leave

2024-07-10 13:33:33

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