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;; Twitter: @SophiaSGates.

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