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Saturday, October 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Public Schools hires new security chief after frequent turnover

UPDATED: Wed., Feb. 12, 2020

A Spokane native with broad experience in school safety and emergency response will head Spokane Public Schools’ safety and security departments, the district announced Thursday.

Salliejo Evers, a Gonzaga University graduate who has held similar positions in Kansas and Sunnyside, Washington, will take over as campus safety-security and risk management director on Feb. 26.

The position is among the most high-profile in the district of 30,000 students. Evers will oversee all phases of campus security, including campus resource officers. She also will be in charge of transportation functions.

“She is highly regarded for her communication skills, her ability to establish relationships with multiple different groups, and for leading calmly through crisis,” Associate Superintendent Linda McDermott wrote to district staff and community members on Wednesday.

Evers is coming to Spokane from the eastern Kentucky office of the American Red Cross.

For three years, she has led emergency and disaster response teams, developed solutions for families and communities facing emergencies and worked closely with police and fire departments and other agencies to improve community preparedness.

Prior to that, Evers was the emergency management and safety-security director for the school district in Sunnyside. The district has one high school, one middle school and five elementaries.

Earlier in her career, Evers established a safety and security response program in the Lansing School District in Lansing, Kansas.

Evers was not available for comment Wednesday.

McDermott said Evers’ hiring caps “an extensive nationwide search and interview process.”

“SPS leadership evaluated candidates based on significant community input and feedback about the qualities most desired in the next director,” McDermott said.

Counting permanent and interim managers, Evers will be the sixth person to head one of the district’s most high-profile positions since Mark Sterk resigned in fall 2018.

Shortly after Sterk’s departure, in February 2019, the district faced questions about its vetting process for resource officers after Officer Shawn Audie was videotaped arresting a student in a hallway at Ferris High School. Audie had previously been faulted for his uses of force when he was a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy.

Former communications director Kevin Morrison – now a member of the school board – served as the district’s interim risk management director until the end of June 2019.

A few weeks later, the district replaced Morrison with Durham School Services local director Santos Picacio Jr.

However, on July 31, Picacio resigned after he was confronted with allegations made last year in court records that he had abused his wife and suffers from long-term mental health and substance-abuse issues.

As with Audie’s hiring, those concerns arose from a civil case and weren’t uncovered during the district’s background checks.

Since then, then district has relied on a pair of retirees to fill the position on an interim basis. Ed Lewis has overseen campus safety, while Joe Madsen has handled transportation and risk management.

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