Hours after Evergreen Public Schools reinstated Mountain View High Principal Matt Johnson following a six-week administrative leave to investigate complaints from school staff, the district placed him back on paid leave Thursday for wording he used in an email to staff a day earlier.
On Wednesday, Johnson and Bill Oman, the district’s senior director of secondary education, each sent emails to Mountain View staff about Johnson returning as principal to lead the roughly 1,650-student high school. The district first placed Johnson on leave March 16 pending the outcome of an independent investigation of staff complaints.
On Thursday, however, Oman sent another email to Mountain View staff saying Johnson was back on administrative leave to “investigate the impact” of an email Johnson wrote to staff Wednesday.
Specifically, Oman targeted Johnson’s comment in the 347 word email to staff that said, “it was reaffirming to learn that the complaints in the investigation were not supported with credible evidence.”
Evergreen spokeswoman Gail Spolar said the district was not aware of Johnson’s initial email to staff Wednesday, nor was the messaging reviewed by the district before being sent.
“Unfortunately,” Oman wrote in part to Mountain View staff Thursday, “that statement is inaccurate as the investigation did identify some concerns that Matt and the leadership team need to address.”
In Johnson’s email to staff, obtained by The Columbian, the principal said he appreciates and supports the ability for staff to be able to express concerns and have them be resolved in a formal matter.
“Additionally, I respect the need to treat the investigations in a matter that preserves the integrity they deserve,” Johnson wrote to staff. “As a result, it was reassuring and reaffirming to learn that the complaints in the investigation were not supported by credible evidence. I want everyone to know I truly take the perspectives highlighted in the concerns to heart. I am committed to working intently on making sure I lead improvements inspired by these concerns, continuing to improve my leadership at Mountain View. This will include a renewed commitment to improved communication, transparency, relationship building and support for all staff through our equity work.”
Johnson said the time away proved “extremely difficult and stressful” for him and his family, but added he was able to reflect on the positive work and progress he’s made since becoming Mountain View’s principal in 2014.
“Those reflections bring me hope and excitement upon my return and for the future of Mountain View,” Johnson said. “With our continued efforts to improve, with our focus on academic discourse supported by our equity work, I know we will continue our improvement for years to come. I am excited to move forward and focus on the future of our great school community after this experience.”
Evergreen Education Association president Bill Beville said Thursday that no formal grievances were filed against Johnson by the teachers union, but added EEA and the district plan to move forward with some ways to “improve the culture at Mountain View High School.”