PUSD Board Votes Out Superintendent, Cites Performance Evaluation

Published: Friday, December 8, 2017 - 8:50am
Updated: Friday, December 8, 2017 - 9:34am
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(Photo courtesy of Peoria Unified School District)
PUSD’s Chief Instructional Officer Steve Savoy will be superintendent designee until an interim is chosen.
(Photo courtesy of Peoria Unified School District)
The Peoria Unified School District governing board voted to remove Superintendent Darwin Stiffler.

The Peoria Unified School District governing board has voted to remove its superintendent. 

The 3-2 vote came with divisive comments. Evaluations claim Superintendent Darwin Stiffler misused travel funds and didn't communicate enough with the board members.

The board was divided on whether to end Stiffler’s contract six months early.

Board member Kathy Knecht voted not to.

“Viewed in the context of the Board actions since January, this move is just the next obvious step in a larger strategy to gain power and control,” she said in the meeting.

Her words, post-vote, were met with applause.

Other members said Stiffler went around the governing board, misused travel funds and changed management styles ineffectively.

Member Monica Ceja Martinez voted to remove Stiffler after a month of executive session meetings discussing the separation.

“I will honor Dr. Stiffler's request, as he asked to have those meetings held in executive session," Ceja Martinez said. "But when I look at the full scope of things and impacting 37,000 students, how we treat people is always number one.”

Peoria Education Association President Trina Berg said Stiffler treated teachers professionally and the board’s decision to take steps to remove him was a shock.

“It was frustrating. It was very unexpected," she said. "Most of us heard about it for the first time when it was on a board agenda. So it kinda blindsided us and came out of left field.”

PUSD’s Chief Instructional Officer Steve Savoy will be superintendent designee until an interim is chosen.

Stiffler will be paid the rest of his salary in a lump sum once the contract is over.

Board member David Sandoval voted against removing Stiffler.

“Yeah, some mistakes were made," Sandoval said. "Those processes may have been the wrong process, but it was brought to the board to fix those. We fail forward. No laws were broken, no policies were broken. If there are issues, let’s give him the opportunity to fix them.”

Contract separation agreement.

PUSD Governing Board evaluations of Superintendent Stiffler.

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