Jane Pryne, the interim superintendent for Sequim School District, will leave her post on Dec. 31.
She announced her decision to step down in the middle of the school year in an email to school district parents and staff on Nov. 10.
The Sequim School Board was aware of her decision about a week earlier, said Brandino Gibson, board president, on Nov. 4.
Gibson said he could not speak to her reasons for her decision but opined that false things said about her on social media contributed.
“A person can only take so much ridiculous public criticism for absolutely no reason,” Gibson said. “She came to us and filled a hole for us and was doing an amazing job.”
Pryne’s decision comes as the district seeks a permanent replacement at superintendent. Then-superintendent Robert Clark resigned following a complaint in October 2020 that put him on administrative leave. (In late March, a district employee filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against Clark that has yet to be resolved.)
Pryne, who had retired from her position as Port Angeles School Superintendent, agreed to serve as interim superintendent on Oct. 26, 2020 and then re-upped for another year at the board’s request in February.
Controversy has followed the district recently. Multiple complaints by current district employees have been filed against the Sequim School District.
The board last month delayed a vote on the proposed censure of board member Jim Stoffer — who was awarded a 2021 Community Service Award last week — for allegedly violating board policy in regard to a complaints against the district, and in September, a board meeting was called off early because of a dispute over masks with audience members.
A full-time person won’t be in place until the search for a permanent superintendent is completed, Gibson said.
In the meantime, he said, “we will have to do some quick calls and find someone to fill that spot on an interim basis. … Unfortunately, it will fall on the new board to figure that out.”
It’s unclear who would lead the district in Pryne’s absence; Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Maughan was placed on administrative leave in mid-September after alleging acts of discrimination/retaliation against her by Pryne.
Board members briefly discussed replacing Pryne during their Nov. 15 meeting. Gibson said he’s made contact with the Olympic Educational Service District, one of nine regional state agencies across Washington state that supports school districts, about assistance in temporarily filling the superintendent role.
Gibson said at Monday’s meeting he felt bullying tactics shown toward Pryne “helped lead to the resignation of the best leader we’ve had in this district for years.”
He added that he regretted not doing more to back the administrator.
“I don’t believe I stood up (enough) in support of Dr. Pryne over these last months, with all she’s been through,” Gibson said Monday.
Pryne’s resignation comments
“It has been my great honor to serve the students, staff, and community of Sequim as your Interim Superintendent,” Pryne said in the email she issued Nov. 10.
“One of my fundamental beliefs is that the Board of Directors and Superintendent must work together as a cohesive team for the common purpose of providing the best possible education for the students of the Sequim School District,” she said.
Pryne added, “I have endeavored over the last 13 months to provide the leadership necessary for our schools, but I have concluded that it is time for someone else to fill this role.
“It is with a heavy heart, but hope for the District’s future, that I am announcing I will step down from my position on December 31, 2021.”
At Monday night’s board meeting, Pryne said she was proud of the work she’d been able to accomplish in her time in Sequim, particularly establishing equity and seeking to create a culture in the district where staffers feel supported.
Pryne was one of two candidates for the Sequim School District’s superintendent position in 2019. She became the Port Angeles district superintendent in 2009 after serving seven years as superintendent of a district in the Tucson, Ariz., area and a year as interim superintendent in another Tucson-area district.
She retired from the Port Angeles School District at the conclusion of the 2013-2014 school year.
Peninsula Daily News Executive Editor Leah Leach contributed to this story.