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June 17, 2019

6/8/2019 1:29:00 PM
Johnson loses school job. School Board mum at meeting
Correction to June 5 story in print edition

This corrects and updates the printed June 5 Weekly News story which inaccurately concluded Georgia Johnson reached an agreement with the La Conner School District to continue as food services director in September for the next school year.

Johnson lost her job without a whisper from her employer June 4 at a specially called School Board meeting.

Co-workers, colleagues and friends statements, whether loud and passionate or sent as emails and letters to the La Conner School District Board of Directors, did not win the day. Superintendent Whitney Meissner is not renewing Johnson's contract for food service director, apparently an administrative decision not requiring Board approval.

The Board declined to act to consider the 16 year director of food services job tenure. Weeks earlier Meissner had chosen to not rehire Johnson for what world be her final year. The School Board removed the non-renewal of her contract from their agenda. They did not address the issue to the 70 people attending, tacitly endorsing Meissner's decision.

The June 5 print story was not accurate. The Weekly News communicated its wrong conclusion in the headline and lead sentence. Instead, Johnson does not have a job; the School District did not back down.

The resolution between Johnson and the district was stated by Johnson in a June 6 email: “I agreed to resign under certain circumstances which nullified the ‘termination with cause.’"

Tuesday the School Board started the meeting removing the resolution of Johnson’s non-renewal for next year from the agenda. Board Chair Janey Beasley then read this prepared statement: “We would like to announce that we have a tentative agreement with Ms. Johnson that will resolve the employment issue. Our attorneys are finalizing details.” 

Neither school board members nor the superintendent spoke to the outcome of their statement “will resolve the employment issue.” The Weekly News’ error was concluding that the agreement continued Johnson’s employment.

After the meeting Meissner would not speak to her decision to end Johnson’s tenure or to the agreement, saying “Our attorneys are working it. The agreement will be on the agenda of the June 24 School Board meeting.”

She added “We all share a [want] to have a fresh, local, healthy food program. That is not the issue."

Beasley only said, “Thank you for your concern.”

This was the third time the board has meet since its regular May meeting. They met in executive sessions May 23 and June 3. The original resolution before the board May 20 stated, “The Board of Directors has reviewed the administration’s recommendation and finds that just and sufficient cause exists for the termination of Georgia Johnson’s employment contract.”

The Board had found “just and sufficient cause exists” to terminate Johnson, citing her evaluation by Meissner, which is confidential.

They passed that resolution in violation of the state’s Open Public Meetings Act and then rescinded it.

The June 4 resolution, removed from the agenda, stated: "The reasons for Georgia Johnson’s contract non-renewal are set forth in her 2018-19 evaluation, which has been reviewed by the Board of Directors."

Related Links:
• Ken Stern

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