Hayden School Board OKs Hagins dismissal

Board also discusses new executive session policies

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— The Hayden School Board began taking steps Wednesday night to ensure that there’s no confusion about its executive sessions.

The board entered executive session Wednesday night to discuss issues regarding students. During board debriefing at the end of the meeting, Board President Brian Hoza asked the other board members whether any decisions were made during executive session or whether any items were discussed that weren’t disclosed before the session was convened. The board members all said, “No.”

After the meeting, Hoza said the questions would become a new part of board procedure after executive sessions.

“It’s a matter of formalizing processes to prevent any misunderstanding,” he said. “Every time we go into executive session, there’s always curiosity and concern about what’s happening in executive session. Anything we can do to clarify that, to avoid any misunderstandings or perceptions of it.”

Hoza said the change had nothing to do with allegations from former Transportation Director Richard “Festus” Hagins, who was fired Oct. 26.

Hagins found out he was fired in a letter from Superintendent Greg Rockhold. Hagins has alleged the School Board acted illegally by voting to terminate his contract in executive session during its Oct. 21 meeting. Hoza and Rockhold said at the time that they wouldn’t discuss the subject of executive sessions.

Colorado’s Open Meetings law precludes local public bodies from adopting policies, passing resolutions or taking formal action during an executive session.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the School Board voted, 4-0, to accept Hagins’ termination. Board member Kurt Frentress didn’t attend the meeting. The board decides whether to approve any personnel decisions made by the superintendent. There was no discussion before the vote.

After the meeting, Hoza said Rockhold decided to fire Hagins after consulting with the board. He wouldn’t say why Hagins was fired.

Hagins also has alleged that he wasn’t notified that he was the subject of a discussion.

The state’s open meetings law also requires that the subject of an executive session be notified and allowed to request that any discussion be public. And it states that the particular matter being discussed must be disclosed “in as much detail as possible” before an executive session is held.

Hoza said Wednesday he couldn’t remember whether Hagins was the subject of the Oct. 21 executive session. According to minutes from the Oct. 21 meeting, the reason disclosed for convening the executive session included “discussion of individual students where a public disclosure would adversely affect that person or persons involved.”

However, Hoza said Hagins was the subject of the Sept. 16 meeting. He said, “A lot of issues surfaced that needed to be discussed.”

Hagins never got the chance to be a part of that discussion. Hagins has said he made himself available before the executive session began but was told he wasn’t needed yet. He said board members knew they could find him walking the halls between Hayden middle and high schools. But no one came to get him, he said.

The board took no action after the Sept. 16 executive session, which lasted four hours.

Hagins attended Wednesday night’s meeting but left before the board approved his termination, which didn’t take place until after 9 p.m. The meeting started at 6.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, parent Lana McFadden said since Hagins’ dismissal, the district has gone three weeks without a mechanic to conduct valid safety checks. Laurie Hallenbeck, another parent who has driven district buses part time in the past, said she, too, was concerned that buses weren’t being properly checked, including a bus she heard had transmission problems.

McFadden said she and other parents were “appalled” by Hagins’ firing. She said some recent action taken by the board has “directly and negatively affected my children’s education, my confidence as a taxpayer and now my children’s safety.”

In other action

■ Tim Frentress was sworn in as a new board member. Frentress joins the School Board for his first four-year term. He defeated challenger Darren Zehner earlier this month. Board member Vance Fulton also was sworn in for his first full term after defeating challenger Laurie Hallenbeck for his seat. He was appointed to the board in 2007. Hoza also was sworn in for another term, his third on the board. He ran uncontested.

Board member Kurt Frentress also ran uncontested.

■ The board also elected its officers for the next two years. Board members approved Hoza to his second consecutive term as president, 4-0. The board also voted, 4-0, to approve Kurt Frentress as vice president, Sharon Nereson as secretary and Fulton as treasurer.

■ The board also voted, 4-0, to approve Nereson as the board representative to the District Improvement Team and Fulton to the Education Fund Board.

■ Board members voted, 4-0, to change next month’s School Board meeting to Dec. 15. That will allow the board to certify the district’s mill levy, which is due to the state that day.

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