School board bids farewell to Cordova, will resolve Park situation next session
The Carbon Board of Education bid farewell to one of its members last week, and also issued a statement concerning the status of George Park who was hired last May to be superintendent of schools, but who has been on suspension since August because of some legal problems he encountered.
Ruby Cordova, who has served on the board for four years, will be stepping down in January when her term ends. The meeting of the board that was held last week was her last regular meeting while still holding the office and fellow members were emotional about the parting.
"This is a hard thing to do, to say goodbye," said board President Barry Deeter as he handed Cordova a plaque expressing the school district's appreciation for her service.
Cordova, who decided in late summer to drop out of the race for the seat she has held since 2006, had words of praise for the board.
"These people have been an awesome group to work with," said Cordova with tears in her eyes. "They have taught me how to play well with others."
Cordova also thanked the board for "helping her through the hardest part of my life." That statement referred to the fact that Cordova was diagnosed with cancer not long after taking office and suffered through the treatments for the disease while in office.
The board also issued a short statement concerning the situation regarding Park.
"We have been working with Dr. Park's counsel and we believe the situation will be resolved next week," Deeter told those at the board meeting.
Park, who came to Carbon after being the superintendent at Garfield County School District, encountered some legal problems this past August when he was arrested by Garfield County Deputies in Price. The charges he was taken into custody on concerned the misuse of public funds, but those charges were dropped by the Garfield County Attorney's office in early November.
However, even though the legal charges were dropped, the state school board's UPPAC (Utah Professional Practice Advisory Commission) still needed to complete its investigation into the situation. At that time, Jean Hill, the lead investigator for UPPAC, said the burden of proof for ethical behavior is different than that for legal charges. She also stated on Monday that the investigation is not yet completed.
"We are still investigating," she said in a phone interview. "We still have documents trickling in. Our board does not meet until January so I would think we will be taking this up then."
Wednesday night's board meeting also included public comments from Randi Miller of Garfield County who served on the Garfield County School Board. She spoke favorably about Park and his performance in Garfield.
"Previous to George being the superintendent in Garfield, a group of teachers and the high school principal had control of the district," said Miller. "The situation was definitely out of control."
Miller went on to tell the story about a superintendent before Park who had tried to take control of scheduling and to enhance the curriculum, something the teachers had previously done. She said the teachers didn't like the ideas he put forth and did not want to make the changes. They basically ignored what the superintendent had done and even held a walkout, sending kids home from school, to protest it.
After that incident other things happened to that superintendent including threats, repercussions against family members and some even brought their vengeance into church activities.
"They held the superintendent's feet to the fire," she said. "It was bloody."
She intimated that the members of the community that were against Park have been trying to reach out and destroy Park despite the fact he has left Garfield County.
"We have a group of teachers who are vindictive and hateful in our school district," she said."What they say or indicate should be discounted."