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Oregon bill would protect superintendents from no-cause terminations

Senate Bill 1521 would require school boards to provide 12 months of notice before the termination of a superintendent with no cause.

SALEM, Ore. — A bill under consideration in the Oregon Senate would offer school superintendents protections from no-cause dismissals. 

Senate Bill 1521 would require school boards to provide 12 months of notice before the termination of a superintendent with no cause. They could still fire superintendents with cause.

The bill text also states that a district cannot direct a superintendent to ignore or violate state or federal law. 

It comes after three high-profile superintendent firings in Oregon last year. 

In July, three newly-elected members of the Albany School Board ousted superintendent Melissa Goff. It remains unclear why Goff was let go, and the action was not discussed at the board's previous meeting. As part of her no-cause dismissal, the school board will pay out 12 months of her salary and benefits, which includes a base salary of $181,000. 

RELATED: Alsea School District loses federal funding after superintendent defies statewide mask mandate

Then in August, the Adrian School Board fired Superintendent Kevin Parnell, reportedly for refusing to disobey the state's K-12 mask mandate. The district paid Parnell more than $100,000 as part of the settlement he signed after being terminated. 

In November, the Newberg School District Board of Directors voted 4-3 to fire former Superintendent Joe Morelock without cause. The district will pay Morelock more than $175,000 per Morelock's contract. Two Newberg School Board members, chair Dave Brown and vice-chair Brian Shannon, faced a recall election in January after months of controversial decisions, including a ban on "political symbols" in schools as well as Morelock's firing. Both kept their seats on the board.

RELATED: Newberg school board votes to ban teachers from displaying BLM, Pride symbols in classrooms

Opponents of the bill, including the superintendent of a district that is flouting a K-12 mask mandate, say the bill would infringe on a school board's autonomy.

Past coverage:

School district in Eastern Oregon fires superintendent for obeying state's mask mandate

Albany School Board fires superintendent, expected payout at least $180K

Newberg school board votes to fire superintendent despite strong objections from 3 board members

Decision to fire Joe Morelock was a late update to the Newberg school board agenda

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