Hayden parents meeting tonight

Mader suspension, principal resignation on agenda

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— The process of hiring a new high school principal in Hayden is on schedule, despite the Hayden School Board's suspension of Superintendent Scott Mader last week.

Interim superintendent and Hayden Valley Elementary School principal Mike Luppes said 14 people have applied for the principal position. The application deadline was Friday.

The applicants were screened Monday by a committee consisting of Luppes, two school board members, two teachers, two students and two parents.

The committee will interview candidates this week and into the early part of next week. Committee members will recommend a final candidate to the school board by July 9, Luppes said.

Most of the applicants are from within the state, though none are from within the Hayden school district. Luppes declined to say whether any applied from nearby districts.

In addition to formal interviews, there will be an open session where parents and students can meet the candidates. The interview and open session schedule will be available today, Luppes said.

Meanwhile, School Board President Kurt Frentress declined to say why the board suspended Mader during a special meeting held June 22. District lawyers advised the board not to release Mader's suspension letter.

"Since it's personnel, we really can't go into the reasons why he was suspended," Frentress said.

The board voted unanimously to approve a motion suspending Mader with pay and benefits pending "investigation and review by legal counsel of matters relating to his employment."

The motion stipulated that Mader's suspension would continue until the board receives a report from district lawyers regarding the investigation.

Also at the meeting, the board approved a motion to rescind a new contract for Mader, which would have replaced his current contract, effective through June 30, 2005. Mader never signed the contract, which was approved by the board in April. It would have covered the 2004-05 school year and offered a buyout for the 2005-06 school year, Frentress said.

Mader has been with the district since 1998. His salary is $86,064 a year according to his contract. He declined to discuss his suspension on Friday and was not available for comment on Monday. There were hints of problems between Mader and staff earlier this year when he attended several mediation sessions with the district's three principals. The issues culminated with former high school principal Nick Schafer's resignation at the end of May.

Schafer cited a difference in philosophy with Mader as his main reason for leaving.

The move inspired a group of concerned parents to organize a series of forums to discuss problems -- and possible solutions -- to district issues.

The group's third meeting is 7 p.m. tonight at the school administration building. School Board members Brian Hoza and Jody Camilletti plan to attend. Luppes also was invited.

"We're, of course going to ask them to give us as much information as they can," parent Dana Haskins said about Mader's suspension.

Despite the criticism and speculation that has surrounded Mader since Schafer's resignation, Ann Willingham, who has helped organize the parent forums, said his suspension came as a surprise. "No one anticipated it at all," she said.

During the forum, parents also plan to discuss their concerns over filling open staff positions, such as a district music director and high school English teacher, in light of Schafer's resignation and Mader's suspension.

The parents also will review information about starting a Parent Teacher Association. Haskins said parents will look at how the School Improvement Teams might be "beefed up."

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