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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane school board defers new superintendent decision as union pushes pick

Redinger  (JIM ALLEN)

The Spokane Public Schools board of directors is still weighing its options on how to proceed following the resignation Tuesday of Superintendent Shelley Redinger.

The board held a 90-minute closed session Wednesday evening to discuss the issue, but didn’t announce a decision during its regular meeting later that night.

Earlier in the day, the board received a strongly worded letter from the local teachers’ union, the Spokane Education Association, urging it to quickly name an interim superintendent in order to focus on preparation for the fall.

“We must have an experienced leader at the helm who will be here to implement the agreements we reach,” said the letter, signed by SEA President Jeremy Shay and Vice President Brad Read.

That person would be Associate Superintendent Adam Swinyard, the union said.

“Dr. Swinyard’s experience with our district will allow us to move with clarity into the uncertain future we face,” the letter continued.

The SEA also took issue with Redinger’s plan to stay with the district through July before she takes over as superintendent of the Richland School District.

Redinger said Tuesday that, rather than leave with one week’s notice, she wanted to help ease the transition in Spokane.

The SEA stated in its letter, “We find that completely untenable, at least in regards to the immediate work that must be done in partnership with the district and SEA.

“We find no compelling reason to keep her in the superintendent’s position past June 30th and request you appoint Dr. Adam Swinyard as interim beginning July 1st.”

No matter who takes over, the 31,000-student district faces one of the most challenging periods in recent history.

Just as it appeared to be recovering its financial footing following last year’s budget crisis, Spokane was laid low by COVID-19.

Like other districts, Spokane was criticized for a laggard adjustment to distance learning.

The 37-year-old Swinyard has been an associate superintendent since January 2017. He previously served as the director of secondary schools for six months.

Swinyard held administrative positions at three schools: principal assistant at Garry Middle School from 2009-11, assistant principal at Cheney Middle School from 2011-13 and principal at Sacajawea Middle School from 2013-16.

Later Wednesday, Shay said the SEA wants a decision on an interim superintendent “as soon as possible because there’s so much work to do this summer.”

Among the top issues for teachers, Shay said, are personal safety and “the inequities kids face” in distance learning.