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Eugene 4J School District approaching deadline to retain or remove its superintendent

Eugene 4J superintendent's office at the district's headquarters.
Rebecca Hansen-White
The Eugene 4J superintendent's office at the district's headquarters.

The Eugene 4J School Board must soon decide whether to terminate, or renew its superintendent’s contract.

On Wednesday, the board spent nearly five hours in an executive session to discuss Superintendent Andy Dey’s job performance as well as a recently filed complaint. That session came two weeks before the deadline to terminate, or allow his contract to automatically renew.

Dey, who has led the district for nearly two years, has faced accusations of bullying and retaliation. The district has denied a KLCC public records request for a recent investigation into his conduct and has not yet fulfilled a request for a letter of reprimand.

According to Dey’s contract, which KLCC obtained through a public records request, if the district terminates him, it will still have to pay his salary for a year. Dey’s annual salary is about $240,000. He also receives fringe benefits such as a cell phone and a $700 per month vehicle stipend.

If the board wanted to remove Dey, but doesn’t want to pay a year’s salary, the body could fire him with cause, according to his contract. A ‘with cause’ dismissal must meet a high bar - such as a finding of gross neglect of duty, a criminal conviction, immorality or failure to perform the terms of his contract. If an arbitrator finds the district fired him in bad faith, Dey is entitled to back pay, attorneys fees, and potentially punitive damages and reinstatement.

The board and Dey could also mutually agree to end his employment, or accept his resignation.

The school board hired him in a close vote amidst allegations from community members that he had bullied others while he was an administrator. At the time of his hiring and in the few years since, the school board has seen significant conflict and turnover. Only two of the current school board’s seven members were on the board when Dey was hired.

Before he was hired as superintendent in summer of 2022, he previously worked as the district’s director of secondary education, and served as principal of Agnes Stewart Middle School, South Eugene High School and was assistant principal of Thurston High School.

If the district takes no action on Dey’s contract by March 15, it will automatically renew.

Rebecca Hansen-White joined the KLCC News Department in November, 2023. Her journalism career has included stops at Spokane Public Radio, The Spokesman-Review, and The Columbia Basin Herald.
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