Evergreen Public Schools names Deeder’s successor

Deputy Superintendent John Steach to take over at beginning of August

By Katie Gillespie, Columbian Education Reporter

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Evergreen Public Schools’ Deputy Superintendent John Steach will take over for the retiring superintendent, John Deeder, at the beginning of August.

The school board unanimously approved the appointment at its Tuesday school board meeting, where it also approved a resolution affirming the district’s commitment to keeping students safe in light of fears over the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Steach, who joined the district as its deputy superintendent in 2014, previously served for three years as the superintendent of the Canby School District in Oregon. He was also the Richland School District’s deputy superintendent after serving as an active member of that school board, according to a district news release.

School board President Victoria Bradford stressed the need for the district to have continuity in its leadership moving forward, praising his support of Deeder and ongoing work with the school district.

“You have had a three-year job interview with us,” she told Steach.

Steach said he was looking forward to the new challenge, and he praised his predecessor, who was absent from the school board dais Wednesday.

“John (Deeder) has set an extremely high bar,” he said.

Deeder announced his retirement late last month. He’ll finish his 11-year tenure as the district’s superintendent on July 31, bringing a 48-year career in education to a close.

Safe schools resolution

The district also unanimously approved a resolution reaffirming its commitment to keeping campuses safe for children regardless of immigration status, as well as their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and other factors.

Pressure is increasingly on schools to respond to student fears in light of the Trump administration’s stance on immigration, as families express concern that they and their children could face detainment or deportation.

“We feel a lot of passion about this and the safety of our students,” Bradford said about the resolution.

Vancouver Public Schools issued a letter last week saying it was committed to “safe and supportive” campuses after students and parents shared fears of how national immigration policies could affect them. Also last week, Evergreen Public Schools hosted an immigration workshop sponsored by the Southwest Washington chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens to discuss what rights immigrants have should Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers approach them.

The safe schools resolution says the district does not ask or record student or family immigration status, and calls on ICE not to come onto school grounds, which would “cause extreme disruption to the learning and teaching environment for students, staff and families.”

Steach told the board he’s received several questions from principals asking the district to clarify its stance on student safety. He said the resolution should be a clear message from the school board.

“Safety is a core value,” he said.