MONROE – The principal of Monroe’s school was put on administrative leave on Saturday as allegations of bullying and concerns about his handling of racism in the district have led to calls for his resignation.
Justin Blasko will be the subject of an independent investigation. The district will hire a third party to “gather facts about certain situations the district is currently facing in order to help council make informed decisions,” wrote council president Jennifer Bumpus in a message to the community Saturday afternoon. The timing of the investigation is not clear.
In the meantime, Academic Director Kim Whitworth will serve as interim superintendent, Bumpus wrote.
The board directors met in an executive closed session with Blasko for 2.5 hours on Friday evening. The meeting was adjourned without a vote or update on Blasko’s position.
Monroe Equity Council chairman Melanie Ryan said on Saturday that she was delighted the investigation was not being conducted internally. But she still thinks it’s better for Blasko to quit.
“We hope he sees this,” she said.
Tension over Blasko’s response to lingering racism in the district’s schools peaked on Monday with frustrated parents demanding action at a school board meeting and students leaving Monroe High School.
Some parents urged Blasko to be fired or quit. They argued that he did not respond adequately to the harassment and intimidation of students. An online petition calling for Blasko’s impeachment had more than 1,300 signatures on Friday night.
And Ryan told directors employees said they were yelled at, threatened and called cruel by Blasko. These employees told fairness council leaders they feared losing their jobs if they spoke up.
âThere have been long-standing wounds and injuries, heartache and pain,â she told the Daily Herald.
Bumpus said in a statement on Wednesday that the council would investigate the allegations.
“The school board takes all reports of harassment, bullying, bullying, racism and discrimination, whether from staff or students, very seriously,” said Bumpus.
The Monroe Education Association cast a vote of no confidence in Blasko last week. Union president Robin Hayashi told board trustees that the superintendent “refused to take action to improve the culture and climate in our schools.”
Racist incidents at schools in Monroe gained public attention last month. Among other cases, a viral video circulated on social media showing a white student repeatedly uttering a racial slur during a confrontation with a black student in the parking lot of Monroe High School.
The mother of the targeted student told the Herald that Blasko should resign.
Meanwhile, the district has over the past two months dealt with reports of threats of violence on its campuses, racist graffiti on a school building, a principal on brief but controversial administrative leave and a psychologist. school accused of sending sexual texts to minors.
Blasko has held the most senior position in the district since February 2020. He arrived in 2010 as Executive Director of Human Resources. He received a superintendent’s degree in 2009 and a doctorate in education after being hired by the district. In 2016, he was appointed Deputy Superintendent of Learning and Teaching.
His contract has also come under scrutiny.
Last summer, the board approved a three-year contract with Blasko, effective until June 30, 2024, to replace its original three-year contract. Then, on November 22, the outgoing board approved a change in the contract extending it to June 30, 2025. Some speakers said on Monday that this violated district policy and state law.
He earns nearly $ 250,000 a year. He will continue to be paid while on leave, district spokeswoman Tamara Krache said in an email.
The legal notice setting Friday’s special board meeting was sent out at 5:01 p.m. on Thursday.