NEWBERG, Ore. — After firing the superintendent of the Newberg School District, the school board has announced that the search is underway for a new leader, but board chair Dave Brown talked with a candidate he was interested in back in October, more than a month before former superintendent Joe Morelock was fired on November 9.
Alsea School District superintendent Marc Thielman told KGW News in an interview that he talked with Dave Brown at the October 2 "Reagan Dinner" in Hillsboro, an annual fundraiser for the Oregon Republican Party.
"He said, would a guy like you be interested?" Thielman told KGW News. "I told him, I don't know if I'd be the best candidate when I've got a great job here in Alsea."
Thielman said he and Brown talked about what kind of leader Newberg would need, and what the process for finding that person should look like.
Thielman made headlines in August when he sent a letter to parents in the Alsea school district, appearing to encourage them to file for disability accommodations to get around the state's mask mandate.
"I see the Section 504 [Protecting Students With Disabilities] option as a lawful and compliant means for accommodating parents, and students who have deeply held concerns about the potential negative impacts of mask wearing at school," he wrote.
Thielman said he's currently enforcing the mask mandate at Alsea schools, but that students are allowed to take as many "mask breaks" as they want throughout the day.
Thielman is also running for governor of Oregon as a Republican candidate. In a video posted on his campaign's Instagram, he claims he wrote and approved his own vaccine exemption to get around the vaccine mandate for Oregon schools. When asked about that, Thielman said that he actually wrote his exemption request and had a member of his staff approve it.
"It's wrong under force to force somebody to put something in their body that they can't take out, that they didn't want, and under threat that they won't be able to participate in society," he said.
Thielman said that he also opposes Critical Race Theory, which is a graduate-level academic discourse that is not taught in K-12 public schools.
"They renamed it," he said. "Now it's anti-racist curriculum. It's all the same stuff. It is basically saying that race counts most, and sexuality, and all these other characteristics -- it's the same thing."
He said that anti-racist curriculum should not be taught in schools because it causes too much division between students.
"It doesn't work. It doesn't make sense to me. It's anathema to unity. It's anathema to what Martin Luther King talks about, which is content of character," he said.
Thielman said that he and Dave Brown are on the same page as far as eliminating division within schools.
Brown, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment, wrote in his statement on the district's website that he would not be giving a reason for Joe Morelock's firing.
"A specific reason does not have to be given for the termination of an employment contract," he wrote. "Why? Due to jurisprudence, our board is not able to give all the reasons for the process and why the decision of this importance was made. Understand that this decision was made through the lense (sic) of a brighter future."