South Routt School District hires consultant to help resolve staff differences

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Scott Mader

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Michael Young

— The South Routt School District brought in an outside consultant Monday in an attempt to address lingering personnel issues. The issues appear to be specific to the relationship between Superintendent Scott Mader and South Routt Elementary School Principal Michael Young.

On Wednesday, Mader said the district hired Denver-based Janice McDermott, a former educator and life coach, for one day. Her services cost the district $700 plus mileage.

“She was brought in so we as a district would be in a better place with what’s been going on, to meet with any individual who could benefit from her services,” Mader said.

About 20 South Routt Ele­mentary School parents and teachers attended the Jan. 19 School Board meeting to show their support for Young. They said Young told them earlier that day he would be seeking new employment. The parents and teachers said there were “philosophical differences” between Young and Mader.

That same group also asked the School Board to fire Mader, something it elected not to do.

Young confirmed Wednesday that he told his staff that he was looking for a new job but not until after the school year. He said that could change “depending on how things get worked out.” He declined to comment about whether there was a conflict between him and Mader.

McDermott met individually with Young on Monday, he said. Young also said McDermott met with elementary school faculty and staff as a group and with some of them individually.

He wouldn’t say whether any personnel issues between him and Mader were resolved during or after McDermott’s visit. Mader also declined to comment about a possible resolution.

Mader said he bumped into McDermott, with whom he worked at the Colorado Depart­ment of Education, at a conference last month in Denver. Knowing that she had worked with school districts experiencing personnel issues, Mader said he asked her to visit South Routt.

Mader said hiring a consultant was designed to give faculty and staff — McDermott also met with Soroco High School Principal Dennis Alt and Secondary Dean of Students Raylene Olinger — an opportunity to express themselves to an outsider who could see things clearly.

Karen Craven, an elementary school art para-educator, said the fact that McDermott knew Mader meant she had a bias.

Last week, during a get-together of elementary school parents and teachers in Yampa, the group expressed their concerns about the issues between Young and Mader.

“It has caused an atmosphere where we don’t feel comfortable and confident he’s a good leader for the school district,” Craven said last week about Mader. “It makes it difficult to have confidence in a leader when he doesn’t have confidence in you.”

Mader thus far has the support of the School Board. At a Jan. 19 meeting, School Board President Tim Corrigan said board members think the allegations made against Mader are “without basis.”

In the past two weeks, parents and teachers have sent about 15 letters to the School Board in support of Young.

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