The school board in the small Jewell School District on Oregon’s north coast has put its superintendent on paid leave, while it investigates him. Superintendent Steve Phillips has been the top executive in the Jewell district since 2019.
According to reporting by The Daily Astorian, the Jewell school board took steps this week toward hiring an acting superintendent while Phillips is investigated.
Before Jewell hired Phillips, he worked in the Beaverton School District. He was forced to resign as Beaverton deputy superintendent after tweeting offensive remarks about undocumented immigrants.
Phillips is the latest of several superintendents to face sanctions from their school boards, including top executives in Newberg and the Greater Albany Public Schools who have been fired. Both of those leaders were terminated following a political shift on the school boards and policy disagreements between the boards and the superintendents.
Tensions between school boards and superintendents have led to legislation in Salem intended to limit the use of “no cause” terminations by school boards and to prohibit firing superintendents for carrying out state or federal mandates.
The school board in the Evergreen Public Schools in Southwest Washington also fired a superintendent recently. Board members voted to terminate Mike Merlino in December after he gave an “inappropriate promotion” to his girlfriend.
It’s not clear what led to the suspension and investigation of Phillips by the Jewell school board.