Wrangell schools superintendent Debbe Lancaster has been put on notice for violating school district policy. That’s according to an official reprimand issued by the school board.
The superintendent has already apologized over her decision to lead a four-employee delegation to Juneau last month despite a travel moratorium over budget concerns and the coronavirus pandemic.
Board member Dave Wilson read the reprimand out at Wednesday’s special school board meeting.
“Unauthorized last minute travel during the COVID-19 pandemic was inappropriate,” Wilson read. “Taking a private charter during tough economic times in Wrangell sent the wrong message to the city and borough and the community. It ultimately may cost the district significant funding. It has unquestionably harmed the district’s relationship with the mayor and the assembly.”
The Wrangell Assembly cited the $6,200 trip as a reason for its decision to rescind $250,000 dollars in federal pandemic relief for the schools until tighter fiscal controls are in place.
The second cause for reprimand is an email Lancaster sent on August 25, entitled “Rumor.” In the email, Lancaster insinuated that the city’s police department had also violated travel policy by sending two police officers to Ketchikan for training. Lancaster blind copied city officials, school board members and the Wrangell Sentinel on the email.
Board member Dave Wilson continued: “Your email communication compounded that rift. Your conduct has also damaged the district’s reputation with the community. During a pandemic, it is imperative that parents and students and community members trust and respect the district.”
In light of the reprimand, the school board composed an action plan for the superintendent. In short, it requires her to follow established rules she’d violated.
It also prohibits the superintendent from communicating with the media or borough without clearing her statements with the school board.
The reprimand was composed with help from the school district’s attorney.
The school board has not released a copy of the letter of reprimand. Nor have the district office or superintendent responded to requests for comment or clarification.
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