March 14, 2013 | Back to: Featured3

Change at the top: High school superintendent’s contract terminated

Nevada Joint Union High School District board trustees terminated the contract of Superintendent Marianne Cartan Wednesday night, a decision approved by a 3-2 vote and is effective immediately, said NJUHSD Board President Katy Schwarz.

“The board voted to terminate the superintendent’s contract without cause,” Schwarz said this morning. “I’m not at liberty to speak to the rationale, because this is a personnel issue and is confidential.”

Schwarz said she and fellow board members Jim Adams and Richard Baker voted in favor of the termination, while trustees Georgie Coulter and Wayne Klauer voted against.

The district will begin a search for a new superintendent next week, after a special meeting is held by board trustees. In the interim, the district will be led by assistant superintendents Trisha Dellis and Karen Suenram, Schwarz said. Cartan is no longer employed by the district in any capacity, effective immediately, she said.

The Nevada Joint Union High School Teachers Association provided the result of a survey of its members to the board Thursday night, declaring a vote of no-confidence in Cartan as superintendent, Schwarz said. But that survey, she added, was not the determining factor behind the termination.

“It’s a process that’s been going on for quite a few months. It had nothing to do specifically with any survey done,” Schwarz said. “It’s been a process that’s been going on for quite awhile. We took it very seriously. It’s not taken lightly. It’s not an easy thing to do.”

“The teachers brought the survey to us last night,” she continued. “It was requested by them of their leadership. We didn’t ask for a survey. Allison (Cassel, the teacher association president) provided us with the survey. But it was her constituents who wanted a survey done and they did that upon their request. The outcome last night did not fall on that survey.”

Klauer, one of the two board members voting in dissent of the termination, declined to comment on why he opposed the decision.

“Usually Katy (Schwarz) gives the comments for the whole board, regardless of how any individual board (decision) would go,” Klauer said.

Coulter, who also voted in opposition, said she appreciated Cartan’s efforts as superintendent.

“She has attempted to affect many things that needed correction and worked tirelessly for the students and schools, and to my knowledge has done a good job and I thought that things could be worked out,” Coulter said. “She should have more time, but the board didn’t vote that way, so we had obviously difference of opinion.

“But I found the work she had done and her leadership in improving things to have been very encouraging; and I’m very sorry she’s going, because I certainly felt she was doing a good job, worked tirelessly.”

Cartan was brought on as interim superintendent in December 2010, replacing Ralf Swenson, who took another job in San Diego County. She previously worked as a counselor and assistant principal at Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley, and worked for 15 years as an administrator with the 49er Regional Occupational Program, a career-skills education program.

She was hired on an interim basis nearly one month after the district had unanimously approved the hiring of David Linzey, a longtime Southern California education administrator.

Linzey eventually turned down the job offer, with negotiations reportedly breaking down over salary and length of the contract. Although the offer was not made public, Swenson had earned $130,000 annually plus benefits and Cartan was paid $135,000 per year. Linzey later accepted the superintendent position with Nuview Union School District in Nuevo, Calif., outside of Riverside. The 3,000-student district reportedly paid him $155,000 per year. According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Linzey resigned from the position in June 2012, after 18 months on the job.

In May 2011, the unanimously approved removing the “interim” status and hiring Cartan as superintendent.

“Marianne has done an exceptional job in a very sort of difficult moment coming in,” Baker, who voted in favor of the termination Wednesday, said at the time. “I feel like she was able to step into the role and be respectful of not only site circumstances, but also made difficult decisions that needed to be made.

“I’ve found that she’s just been incredibly competent in that position.”

Reached for comment Thursday, Baker declined to speak to his vote in favor of the termination.

“The board has a way of communicating, where we prefer that you speak with Katy Schwarz,” he said. “We sort of like to have one voice on those sorts of things.”

Check back with TheUnion.com for more on this developing story.

“My position is going to be that it was a pleasure to work in the district and my home community, and I really appreciate having that opportunity to do it.”
— Marianne Cartan


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The Union Updated Mar 15, 2013 10:09AM Published Mar 18, 2013 08:44AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.