Alvin Cooper (Photo provided by Marysville School District)

Alvin Cooper (Photo provided by Marysville School District)

After allegations, Marysville schools’ HR director resigns

Last week, the district’s finance director Lisa Gonzales publicly called for the school board to put Alvin Cooper on leave, citing mismanagement.

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville School District’s head of Human Resources suddenly resigned Thursday, less than two weeks after the soon-to-be-former finance director named him in bombshell allegations about mismanagement at the district’s highest levels.

Alvin Cooper joined the district last July. District spokesperson Jodi Runyon said he resigned of his own accord Thursday morning and did not give a reason for his departure.

Last week, the district’s finance director, Lisa Gonzales, publicly called for the school board to put Cooper on leave, alleging intimidation of staff and incompetence in the human resources department.

The department “is not a place where any of my staff can go to report problem behavior, issues of impropriety in the workplace, or abusive behavior from the leader in the HR Department,” Gonzales wrote in an earlier report to the state superintendent’s office.

Human resources employees mismanaged staff leave and didn’t pass on crucial information to the finance department, she wrote.

Cooper and Superintendent Zachary Robbins also made agreements “that have financial implications without ever communicating that to the finance team,” she continued.

Robbins remains at the head of the district, despite Gonzales pushing for the school board to place him on leave as well.

On Tuesday, the school board confirmed it is taking steps to open an outside investigation into Gonzales’ allegations.

The district will not renew Gonzales’ contract when it expires at the end of June, Runyon wrote in an email last week. On May 31, Gonzales was put on administrative leave, according to her public letter.

Runyon declined to comment on whether she believed Cooper’s resignation was related to Gonzales’ accusations.

“We respect his decision and wish him well in his future endeavors,” Runyon said.

The district is “mobilizing internally” to figure out the next steps, Runyon said, noting Robbins is working on a transition plan and will likely have other district leaders take on Cooper’s duties in the interim.

Cooper and Gonzales couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Marysville schools have been in deep turmoil all year, grappling with a severe budget crisis and facing parent and staff protests against district leadership.

Since August, the district has been in so-called “binding conditions,” meaning it must work with the state to solve its financial woes. Marysville is the largest school district ever to enter into binding conditions in Washington.

In April, the state superintendent’s office rejected the district’s financial plan, pointing to inconsistent numbers, among other issues.

The state later approved a revised plan.

On May 31, the district announced plans to close three schools in fall 2025, citing declining enrollment. The school closures still need final approval from the school board.

Jalleh Hooman, the mother of a child in the district, said she was glad to see some administrators leaving. She worried, however, Cooper and Gonzales were “scapegoats,” distracting attention from Robbins.

The core problem is Robbins hiring “incompetent” staff, Hooman argued. She called for more oversight of hiring decisions and for the school board to place Robbins on leave pending the investigation.

A staff announcement Thursday promised “the superintendent and district leaders are committed to maintaining a smooth operation.”

The school district released a statement on Cooper’s resignation Thursday afternoon:

The Marysville School District informed staff today about a leadership change in the Human Resources department. Mr. Alvin Cooper has resigned from his position as Executive Director of Human Resources, effective immediately.

We understand this news may come as a surprise, particularly given recent changes within the district, and we appreciate our school district community’s patience and understanding during this time.

The superintendent and district leadership are committed to ensuring a smooth transition for the Human Resources department and its staff. Services to district employees will continue uninterrupted. A transition plan is being developed to provide continued support for departmental functions. In the meantime, other district-level executive directors will provide guidance and support.

Mr. Cooper has served the Marysville School District with dedication and made valuable contributions during his time in the district. We respect his decision and wish him well in his future endeavors.

Sophia Gates: 425-339-3035; sophia.gates@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @SophiaSGates.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Lynnwood appoints new council member after abrupt resignation

Derica Escamilla will take the seat vacated by Shirley Sutton in May, who claimed the city had a “total lack of leadership.”

Everett Housing Authority is asking for city approval for its proposed development of 16 acres of land currently occupied by the vacant Baker Heights public housing development on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett council locks in building heights for Park District

After months of negotiation, the council approved on Wednesday the 1,500-home project with buildings as high as 12 stories.

Onions are grilled up at the Walla Walla Burger booth during opening day of the Evergreen State Fair on Aug. 25, 2022 in Monroe, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Save money and time with advance ticket sales for Evergreen State Fair

The fair’s 115th installment runs 11 days starting Aug. 22 in Monroe. “Bright Lights, Summer Nights” is the theme.

Jayden Hill, 15, an incoming sophomore at Monroe High School is reflected in the screen of a cellphone on Wednesday, July 10, 2024 in Monroe, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Come fall, Monroe students must silence their cellphones in class

Elementary and middle school students won’t be allowed to use phones in schools. High schoolers will have more leeway.

Members of “Everett Deserves a Raise” group turn in their signed patients to the the clerk at City Hall on Thursday, July 11, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett minimum wage initiative submits signatures to get on ballot

Meanwhile, another group is leading a campaign for a similar local measure, but with a few notable differences.

The winner of the 2023 Great Mukilteo Dog Show at Lighthouse Park in Mukilteo. (Photo provided by Kandace Barnes)
All dogs are show dogs at the Great Mukilteo Dog Show on Saturday

The mayor “double dog” dares you to attend. Categories include Best Wiggles and Most Slobbery at the show at Lighthouse Park.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.