Superintendent Brigid Nease’s contract has been renewed. On June 10, the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board voted to extend Nease’s contract by one year. Nease, who has been the school superintendent for 11 years, is in the fourth year of a five-year contract, ending in 2021. With her newly extended contract, however, she is set to run the district until summer 2022.
The weighted vote to extend Nease’s contract passed 69.90% to 30.10%, with nine board members in favor of extending her contract and five board members in opposition.
While Nease’s three-hour evaluation was held in executive session, members of the public still Zoomed into the meeting prior to the confidential evaluation to express their views on the matter.
“In a district like ours, with such heterogeneous views, no leader is going to be liked by everyone all the time,” said Steve Odefey, Waterbury. Odefey encouraged board members to focus their efforts on following the established performance review criteria instead of being “distracted by this noise.” Some of that “noise,” may be the fact that Nease is currently under investigation for failure to properly address complaints of racism toward students in the district.
“I myself have had a great many disagreements with the superintendent over the years, but I have every confidence in her ability to execute the role with integrity. I, and almost all of the school district board members that I know, approve of her performance and support the renewal of her employment contract,” said Odefey in approval of Nease’s continued employment.
On the other hand, Cory Stephenson, Moretown, spoke to express her disapproval of the superintendent. “Over the past eight-plus years that I have been directly involved in the school district, I have seen our superintendent continually spread fear, uncertainty and doubt in our schools and community. While potentially necessary actions, there have been too many instances of divisive tactics used as a strategy for success,” said Stephenson.
Some of the divisive strategies Stephenson mentioned were Nease’s request for an 8% raise when schools were told they had to defund, an “abrupt and confusing” dismissal of the principals at both Moretown and Fayston elementary schools, the “hostile removal” of a longtime and beloved staff member at Warren Elementary School and, more recently, Nease’s attempt to redesign the district through budgeting, which “shut staff out of the process.”
“I would like to see more inclusive and collaborative work done on bringing our six towns together and creating a functioning and cohesive district that works for all students,” said Stephenson.