Two Sequim school district administrators — superintendent Dr. Rob Clark and Sequim High principal Shawn Langston — were placed on leave last week pending the outcome of separate complaints.
No details about either complaint have been released.
Sequim School District officials announced Clark was on paid leave Thursday afternoon, Oct. 22; Langston was placed on leave the following day.
Jane Pryne, former Port Angeles School District superintendent, was named interim superintendent late last week; her first day was Monday, Oct. 26.
Both complaint investigations are being handled internally through the district’s human resources department as well as risk management staff, Pryne said; neither investigation involves law enforcement.
Clark and Langston are the second and third Sequim School District administrators this school year to go on leave after Shelley Jefferson, Helen Haller Elementary assistant principal, went on leave this summer. An investigation remains open with the Lummi Nation Police Department into allegations that she and her husband Francis allegedly abused an unnamed foster child.
There are no other staff members placed on leave, Pryne said.
“We will move forward and get through this stronger than when we went into this,” Pryne said.
Sequim School Board president Brandino Gibson declined to give further details about the complaint against Clark or the party/parties involved making the complaint.
“This was a legal action that was taken to protect all the parties,” he said in a Thursday interview.
School district staff and school board directors were notified as well, district officials said.
In a note to Sequim school staff, Gibson urged staff to “refrain from speculation regarding the details surrounding this decision.”
Gibson wrote, “As the Superintendent, Dr. Clark is deserving of respect, not rumor. This action is for the protection of all parties involved.”
On Thursday, Gibson said staff were evaluating who would be leading day-to-day operations, noting that “the Sequim School District will continue to lean on the leadership of the district’s cabinet who will keep Sequim School District moving forward on mission.”
On Friday, Gibson said Pryne would step in to Clark’s role for the interim.
Gibson said Sequim staff sought advice from Olympic Educational Service District 114 staff for interim recommendations.
“(Pryne’s) been doing recent work with districts; she’s local, understands the local community, (and) has lots of prior experience,” he said.
Pryne was one of two candidates for the Sequim School District’s superintendent position in 2019.
“She was a good tough candidate (then),” Gibson said. “In the end we were fortunate she was available.
This is not a knock on our staff; there’s a lot of lifting lot of work to do,” Gibson said. “Missing Dr. Clark, that’s a missing piece to the puzzle.”
Clark is in his second year as superintendent in Sequim after being hired in July 2019.
He most recently worked as superintendent of the Milton-Freewater School District, just south of Walla Walla across the Washington-Oregon state line, a job he held since 2013.
He has also served as a superintendent in Washington state school districts, including the Quilcene School District,the Cascade School District in Leavenworth and the Rearden-Edwall and Washtucna school districts in Eastern Washington.
Clark succeeded Gary Neal, selected over former Port Angeles schools superintendent Pryne in the summer of 2019.
Principal on leave
In lieu of Langston was placed on leave Friday, Oct. 23, pending the outcome of a complaint, school district officials said Monday afternoon.
“Sequim High School will lean on the leadership of the Assistant Principal, Kristi Queen, with the support of the District Office, to keep Sequim High School moving forward on mission,” school district staff said in a press release.
Langston was hired in June 2002 to lead the high school, succeeding Brian Pendleton, who left Sequim for Walla Walla High School.
He accepted the job just a few weeks after his wife Shelley was hired as the school district’s special education director; she’s now the district’s Executive Director of Learning Support Services.