Search begins in earnest for Monroe interim superintendent

Meanwhile, Superintendent Justin Blasko is still on leave, and school officials are keeping quiet about his future.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Monroe in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118

MONROE — The search for an interim leader for Monroe public schools is on, but the fate of Superintendent Justin Blasko is still unclear.

The school board Monday approved a $5,000 consulting contract with Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, a national search firm. In a message to the community Thursday, board president Jennifer Bumpus said the goal is to approve a contract for an interim superintendent by the end July.

Jennifer Bumpus

Jennifer Bumpus

“HYA has pledged that the slated candidates will be an excellent fit for Monroe School District, who will align well with the desired leadership skills and qualities we identify,” the message says.

Bumpus’ community message outlined a five-step search process but didn’t directly explain how the public could get involved.

Bumpus told The Daily Herald the finer details of the search process are still in the works. Typically, school boards interview superintendent candidates during a public meeting. Bumpus said she won’t know the specifics of the interview process until the board meets with the consultants for an initial planning meeting. The board wants to act as quickly as possible to fill the position.

“It’s one of my goals to continue involving our community and being as transparent as possible as we move forward, not only with this piece but with all of our future communications, interactions and goals in the district,” she said.

The message only briefly mentioned Blasko, who was put on paid administrative leave in December ahead of an outside investigation into staff claims about inappropriate language, bullying and sexist outbursts. The investigation supported those claims.

“We are also continuing to work through the legalities and personnel matters surrounding the employment of Dr. Blasko,” the message says. “We do not yet have an additional update that we are able to publicly share at this time.”

Bumpus told The Herald she could not elaborate.

Blasko is under contract through July 2025. If the board terminates the contract, he would be eligible for a year’s worth of severance pay. His annual salary is nearly $250,000, and he’s in line for a cost of living increase July 1. His contract allows him to appeal a termination, a process that could take months to resolve.

Justin Blasko

Justin Blasko

The interim superintendent would step in for Kim Whitworth, who has served as acting superintendent while Blasko is on leave. Whitworth returns to her role as the district’s chief academic officer July 1. That means the district may not have an acting superintendent for about a month.

Bumpus said Whitworth’s interim superintendent contract designated staff to manage basic district operations — like signing regular financial documents — if there wasn’t an acting schools chief in place when she returned to her usual duties. In this case, David Paratore, chief student services officer, and Brenda Hunt, executive director of fiscal services, will help, Bumpus said.

“The hope is that nothing big comes up in the meantime,” Bumpus said.

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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