ALBANY, Ore. (AP) — An ex-Oregon schools leader says the people who ousted her last month never spoke to her, and the district’s work on equity — which she championed — is now languishing.
Board members at the Greater Albany Public Schools District fired Superintendent Melissa Goff soon after new members took over, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
Goff was terminated without cause, a point Goff said confirmed she hadn’t done anything wrong. She said she was removed for having different values, such as ensuring equity was integrated into teaching.
Board chair Eric Aguinaga, however, said in an emailed statement that Goff was fired because she had become a polarizing figure in the Albany community.
The conflict is not the only example of recent friction between elected school board members and administrators.
The Newberg School Board has announced plans to repeal state policies aimed at equity including a policy which among other things, bans hate symbols such as nooses and swastikas. Those plans have drawn opposition from the state legislature’s BIPOC caucus and House Majority Leader Barbara Smith-Warner, D-Portland.
Aguinaga also disagrees with Goff’s allegation that Albany has been shirking commitments to help historically marginalized students. The chair noted that Goff’s interim replacement, longtime school leader Rob Saxton, is deeply committed to equity work.
Goff argues that the process to bring in new administrators — including Saxton — is evidence that the district is less committed to helping students of color and other student groups the district hasn’t historically served well. Goff said four recently filled positions went to white men on a fast timeline.
“All of those positions not having been posted so that publicly people around the state or the nation could apply for them create a lack of access for people of color, create a lack of access for bilingual people,” Goff argued.
The four positions are interim superintendent, chief of staff, interim executive director of operations, and an assistant principal position. Chief of staff Rich Sipe confirmed that all four positions were filled quickly by four people who identify as white males through appointments after the board hired Saxton.