‘Egregious behavior’: Evergreen School Board terminates superintendent

Washington

Documents show the issue involves Mike Merlino and his girlfriend

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Evergreen School Board of Directors voted to terminate Superintendent Mike Merlino in the midst of an investigation into his “professional conduct.”

According to a press release, Merlino was terminated after a 4-1 vote by the board. The board voted to terminate him using the “no cause” provision of his contract during a special meeting on Thursday.

All three members who voted to terminate him with “no cause” on Thursday concluded that there is enough evidence to terminate his contract “for cause,” but the ensuing legal expenses and placing him on administrative leave would cost the district more in the end. Utilizing the “no cause” clause allows the district to move forward without any lengthy litigation.

The district stated Rachael Rogers, the one board member who voted “nay,” reportedly still supported the immediate termination — “but would have rather terminated him ‘for cause’ in light of Merlino’s egregious behavior uncovered during the preliminary investigation.”

Merlino was first placed on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation into his professional conduct on Dec. 7.

Emails from school board members show there were two complaints from administrative employees against Merlino alleging retaliation and abuse of power.

One situation involved Merlino wanting to promote a district employee with whom he was romantically involved. He allegedly retaliated against another employee who spoke up about the fairness of that promotion given his relationship with the woman.

Evergreen Superintendent Mike Merlino, undated (KOIN, file)

The second complaint, from August 2020, involved the same girlfriend. She went to Merlino to complain about how her supervisor wanted her to update her absences in the district database. Documents show Merlino went straight to the board with that same complaint rather than directly contacting his girlfriend’s supervisor.

The investigation also found Merlino got directly involved with the firing of an employee in his girlfriend’s department after she forwarded him heated emails about the topic.

The board will now search for an interim superintendent “who will continue to move the educational priorities of the district forward,” according to their press release.

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