UPDATE: School chief plans to leave Mt. Pleasant

Superintendent says clashing with board members bad for her health

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: July 23, 2012, 8:52 PM

 

Mount Pleasant School Superintendent Linda Slattery has resigned her post due to “irreconcilable differences” with two longtime board members, she said Monday morning.

Slattery notified school board members of her intention to resign via email Monday night. Her resignation is effective Aug. 17.

Slattery cited ongoing disrespect from board President Dolores Nelson and veteran board member Peggy Carroll as her reason for leaving the district, which offers kindergarten through sixth grades. She had joined the district last fall. Located east of Washougal on the Skamania County line, Mount Pleasant has 55 students and four employees.

“I’ve decided life is too short,” Slattery said Monday, noting that she had made her decision one day earlier.

Slattery’s announcement came one month after she publicly butted heads with Nelson over the handling of a scandal in which a veteran bus driver confessed to stealing money from the school district. Former Mount Pleasant bus driver Cheryl Randall has since resigned and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft. Randall’s sentencing is Aug. 2.

Randall’s acts were the focus of a recently released report from the Washington State Auditor’s Office that suggested she used district money to purchase gas for her personal vehicle and billed the district for around $4,000 worth of travel reimbursements, item purchases and extra hours worked which the district neither vetted nor obtained documentation for. The district also failed to provide an employee contract for Randall.

Slattery said during last month’s board meeting that Nelson had intimidated her into keeping Randall employed for eight months after she confessed to using a district credit card to purchase $500 in gas for her personal vehicle. Nelson labeled Slattery’s comments as “lies” and said the superintendent had had the power to fire Randall but elected not to.

The verbal volleys during the June board meeting came after board member Thomas Schlatter urged Nelson to resign her post as board president. Nelson rejected Schlatter's request, noting she planned to stay as president until the end of this year.

Vote to remove postponed

Schlatter had planned to ask the board to vote to remove Nelson as board president at tonight's board meeting. However, he said Monday morning that the item would not be voted on this month because it was not placed on the agenda. He will instead seek Nelson's removal at the August meeting.

Nelson did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story Monday.

Carroll expressed surprise at Slattery's decision, as well as Slattery's comments about her.

"I'm sorry she feels that way," Carroll said. "I have no ill feelings toward her. If she feels that way, then I guess she isn't the right person for the job."

While Carroll played down any hard feelings, it was clear based on her comments that friction existed.

"If she can't take dealing with a person she feels is difficult, then maybe it's to everybody's advantage" she resign, said Carroll, an 18-year board veteran.

News of Slattery's decision to resign also caught Schlatter off-guard.

"I'm not pleased by it, whatsoever," Schlatter said. "She told me before, she feels intense pressure from De Nelson and Peggy Carroll that makes it unbearable."

Schlatter declined further comment. "I need to talk to (Linda) first," he said.

Slattery said wished the best to the district. She said she enjoyed working with the teachers, students and parents. However, her decision to resign was best for her health, she added.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; http://facebook.com/raylegend; http://twitter.com/col_smallcities; ray.legendre@columbian.com.