Associate Superintendent David Cairy received a standing ovation from 200 staff members, parents, and community members after his final interview Wednesday evening, but he didn’t get the votes from the Board of Education.
Instead, they voted 5-2 to hire Dr. Laura VanDuyne, a candidate from California, who has ties to the area and was looking to move back to Michigan. She has served as Executive Director of the State SELPA, Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority since 2010.
The decision angered and saddened many who were present for the interviews.
Trustees Shannon Vanderhyde and Jeff Gust were the two dissenting votes.
The board had the public fill out feedback forms after the interviews and turn them in, and the board sifted through them during recess. They then took a straw poll to see where they stood.
Vanderhyde said that she was saddened by the direction the board seemed to be moving in. She said that one of the comments on the feedback form stuck with her, that Laura would have a big learning curve. “I don’t want my three kids to have a big learning curve,” she said. “I want them to have the best of the best. With Dave, we can start tomorrow.”
Trustee Todd Hanson said he didn’t think there would be a huge learning curve, noting that staff would still be there doing a great job. “And if not, then maybe they are not as loyal as they say,” he remarked.
The remark brought a big boo from the crowd, and several people walked out.
Vanderhyde questioned why they bothered to get the feedback if they weren’t going to use it.
Trustee Joe Marckini said he must’ve gotten different feedback than Shannon, and that he was out talking to people. And if people didn’t like his decision, they could recall him.
Trustee Patricia Eary thought an outsider would bring a fresh perspective. President Brooke Nichols said she had a gut feeling about Van Duyne the first time she interviewed.
Those who voted for Van Duyne—President Brooke Nichols, Todd Hanson, Patricia Eary, Matt Shoffner, and Joe Marckini—all had good things to say about Cairy, but seemed to feel that Van Duyne had the skills to move the district forward.
Shoffner remarked that he felt the two of them working together—Van Duyne a global thinker and Cairy a detailed thinker—would make a good team.
After the official vote, the silence in the room was deafening. Trustee Shannon VanderHyde dissolved into tears.
Some members approached the board and thanked them for their work, while others left the room or talked quietly among themselves.
A committee will work on contract negotiations with Van Duyne, and then bring that back to the board for approval.