New Creekview Principal John Thomas with Elementary Supervisor Joan Atwood after the school board vote.
The Carbon School District Board of Education appointed Tooele resident John Thomas to be principal of Creekview Elementary last Wednesday night during its regularly scheduled meeting. But what was to be the big news of the night was overshadowed a bit by the the arrest the week before of the school district's superintendent, George Park.
Consequently, to begin the meeting, board president Barry Deeter made a statement to the public concerning the situation.
"When we hired Dr. Park we were aware of the audit situation in Garfield County School District where he had served as superintendent before he came here," stated Deeter. "However there were no pending legal proceedings concerning him at the time and he had left the school district's employment. A hiring committee of 15 people including our board, members of the public and the Utah School Board Association helped to select Dr. Park for our superintendent. There are no legal issues concerning Dr. Park and our district. We checked his references before we hired him and he had been working here since mid-May, during which time he had done an admirable job. We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our actions as needed to that. We are confident that our staff and administration will continue to provide a quality education for our students during this time."
Park was arrested on the morning of Aug. 6 as he returned to the Carbon District office from a meeting at the school district bus garage. Price Police Sergeant Bill Barnes along with two Garfield County Sheriff's Deputies took Park into custody in front of the school district's maintenance building after checking with employees at the district office about his whereabouts. He was arrested on a warrant out of the Sixth District Court in Garfield County that was issued on Aug. 5. The warrant alleged that Park misused public monies while superintendent of the Garfield County School District, the district he worked for for three years before being hired at Carbon. The charges on the warrant are considered a second degree felony. That afternoon he was booked into the Garfield County jail in Panguitch. The board met that afternoon, put Park on paid administrative leave and appointed a committee, headed up by Judy Mainord, secondary supervisor, to run the district until circumstances concerning Park could be sorted out.
After Deeter's statement, Zena Robinson came up during the public comment period and asked about the reason why the board had placed Park on leave with pay.
"Considering the situation we contacted legal counsel," said board member Jeff Richens responding to Robinson's question. "Based on that advice without proof of wrong doing we could not put Dr. Park on leave without pay or discharge him. But they also advised that he needed to be away from the operation of the schools during this time. So for now that is what we need to do."
From that point on the meeting proceeded without further discussion on the superintendent's position or Park's status.
Thomas, who was appointed principal at Creekview, spoke to the board late in the meeting telling them how much he looked forward to serving as principal at the school.
He replaces Joan Atwood, who has taken the position of elementary supervisor in the district office.