Monroe chooses ex-Mukilteo schools chief as interim leader

Marci Larsen retired in 2019 after 17 years as Mukilteo superintendent. Some Monroe parents were critical of the choice.

Marci Larsen

Marci Larsen

MONROE — Retired Mukilteo superintendent Marci Larsen will lead the Monroe School District next year.

Monroe School Board members unanimously agreed to hire Larsen for the temporary role Thursday night. She was chosen from a pool of three candidates following an extensive public interview process and almost two hours of private deliberation. Board members did not discuss their selection.

On Friday, in an email to The Daily Herald, Board President Jennifer Bumpus said the board is excited to bring Larsen aboard as interim superintendent for the 2022-23 school year.

“We sought out a candidate who could manage district operations effectively and who also brings a track record of building unity and trust among stakeholders,” Bumpus wrote. “We are excited about the quality, proven leadership that Dr. Marci Larsen will bring to our district.”

Larsen retired from the Mukilteo School District in 2019 after a nearly 17-year tenure as superintendent. Her resume also includes experience as a teacher and principal. She has a master’s degree in school administration from Western Washington University.

When she retired, a longtime Mukilteo School Board member said Larsen brought “unprecedented longevity and calm, steady leadership” to the district. Other staff members commended her financial prudence.

However, Larsen’s fiscal philosophies led to conflict with teachers in 2018 on wages and other elements of a new contract. At the time, union members issued a vote of no confidence in Larsen.

That vote irked some parents in Monroe, but Bumpus said judging an applicant on “one issue, at one point in time, doesn’t provide an accurate picture of their overall performance.”

Other parents expressed concerns with Larsen’s interview performance. Junelle Lewis, a district employee and mother of seven Monroe students, said she thought Larsen’s interview was “not strong” compared to the other candidates: Sheldon Rosenkrance and Marcus Pimpleton.

“Sheldon and Marcus were giving real-life examples, whereas Marci was kind of giving ‘Kumbaya … I want to do what’s right for my nieces and nephews (who attend Monroe schools)’ answers,” Lewis said.

Lewis called Larsen a “safe choice” and “nonprogressive move” for the school board — in a district that has experienced “so much upheaval” relating to racism and personnel issues.

“As a person, I’m sure she’s great,” Lewis said. “But with the current state of the Monroe School District, I don’t feel like she will get us to where we need to be.”

Directors will enter contract negotiations with Larsen next week, Bumpus said. The contract will outline Larsen’s term, which is likely to span from this August to next June.

Bumpus said she expects the board to begin discussing plans soon for hiring a permanent leader.

Mallory Gruben is a Report for America corps member who writes about education for The Daily Herald.

Mallory Gruben: 425-339-3035; mallory.gruben@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @MalloryGruben.

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