LA CONNER — The La Conner School Board plans to meet with representatives of its two employee unions after those unions passed votes of “no confidence” against Superintendent Whitney Meissner.
Members of the La Conner Education Association (LEA) and the Public School Employees (PSE) voted June 7 that they did not have confidence in Meissner’s ability to lead the district.
Meissner took the reins of the district in 2017, replacing Tim Bruce, who had been La Conner School District superintendent for more than 25 years.
“During the past two years, (Meissner) has engaged in many damaging management practices that negatively impact staff, students, and the community,” representatives from the two unions said in a joint news release. “Chief areas of complaint include negative school culture and climate, poor communication, weak interpersonal skills, ineffective leadership, and the harassment, intimidation and bullying of staff members.”
Forty-four of the district’s 48 LEA members participated in the vote, the release states. Of those 44, 35 — or 80% — voted “no confidence” in Meissner.
For the PSE union, 31 of 46 members voted, the release states. Of those, 22 — or 79% — voted “no confidence” and three abstained.
“Union leadership and individual members have provided both written and verbal feedback to (Meissner) directly, completed mid-year feedback surveys issued by the Superintendent, and contacted board members with concerns in an effort to raise awareness of problem areas and improve relationships and working conditions,” the release states. “However, recent events and actions taken by the superintendent have escalated to the point that we are compelled to take stronger action.”
LEA co-President Alyse Sehlin said the unions are hoping to have conversations with the board before releasing details about what those “events and actions” were.
The board met Monday morning — largely in a closed-door, executive session — to discuss several things, one of which was the union votes, Board President Janie Beasley said.
The school board will be reaching out to the unions to discuss the next steps, Beasley said.