Bria offered job in Arizona district

Former B.G. schools chief has yet to accept superintendent position

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter



Bria’s settlement details

Upon her resignation from Battle Ground Public Schools, Superintendent Shonny Bria received her full salary for the 2012-13 school year plus the following compensation:

• Payment of $150,000 in the 2013-14 school year and another $150,000 in the 2014-15 school year.

• Two full years of medical coverage (medical, dental, vision) for Bria and her husband, worth $45,360, beginning July 1, 2013.

• Vacation cash-out of $41,149 for 38 days, paid in accordance with her contract.

• Payment of $15,206 into a health savings account for unused sick leave.

Rochonne "Shonny" Bria, the former superintendent of Battle Ground Public Schools who left the district in June 2013 with a secretive $401,715 buyout from the school board, has been offered a job with a small school district in Arizona.

If Bria accepts the position as superintendent and special education director of the Grand Canyon Unified School District, she will begin work in July. Kevin Hartigan, the district's governing board president, did not release Bria's salary or other details.

"We're currently under contract negotiations and hope to come to a conclusion at the board meeting Tuesday night," Hartigan said Monday.

The Grand Canyon Unified School District is much smaller than Battle Ground, with a total enrollment of more than 300 students all housed on one campus. The district is near the south rim of the Grand Canyon and serves the communities of Tusayan and Valle. The district hired search consultant Mike Aylstock to bring qualified candidates.

"We're very excited about offering her the position," Hartigan said. "We did a very extensive search and due diligence in selecting the superintendent. We believe she is the best candidate to lead our district into the future."

Bria was superintendent of Battle Ground Public Schools for 15 years through June 30, 2013. Before she left the district, she signed a $401,715 buyout that included two full years of medical coverage (medical, dental, vision) for Bria and her husband, worth $45,360, beginning July 1, 2013. The buyout agreement was kept secret from school staff and the public, and for two months the former school board chairman denied it even existed.

Battle Ground still has more than a year left to pay for the couple's health insurance. If Bria accepts the Arizona job, she likely will have health insurance through her new job.

On Monday afternoon Duane Rose, interim superintendent for Battle Ground Public Schools, checked with the school district's attorney, Phil Coats, to see whether the district would be obligated to continue to pay for medical insurance for Bria and her husband for the 2014-2015 school year, as Bria's separation agreement is written.

"There's no language in the contract that would reflect us not having responsibility for the insurance," said Rose.

Work history

Before she was hired by Battle Ground, Bria was superintendent at the Pendergast K-8 School District in west Phoenix. She left Pendergast in early 1998 and did not complete the school year. In spring 2013 The Columbian, seeking to know why Bria left months before the school year ended, requested public records on Bria's last four performance reviews from the Pendergast School District but received no information. Officials said the district did not keep records that old.

When Bria was hired by the Battle Ground School District in 1998, she was among almost 30 candidates for the position. She was paid $110,000 in her first year, plus up to $10,000 in relocation benefits and a $500 monthly travel allowance. When Bria left the Battle Ground district, her annual salary was $154,699 and she had been receiving a $1,034 monthly automobile allowance.

The Battle Ground school board did not produce written employee evaluations for Bria.

History of applications

Bria had a history of applying for superintendent jobs in other states while she was employed by the Battle Ground district.

In spring 2013 Bria was among three finalists for the superintendent position with Tucson Unified School District in Arizona, Tucson's largest district. She was not offered that position. Had she received the job, she would have forfeited the Battle Ground buyout.

In 2004, she applied for superintendent jobs in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Colorado. In June 2006, Bria was one of three finalists for the superintendent's job in Glendale, Ariz. On Aug. 25, 2006, without explanation, Bria backed away from a $195,000 job offer to be superintendent of the Corpus Christi Independent School District in Texas.

Bria has refused to speak with The Columbian.