Board of Education mum about Aspen superintendent’s contract talks
Members of the Aspen School District Board of Education were mum Wednesday about their private discussions regarding John Maloy, the superintendent who recently has been criticized by a parents group calling for his removal.
The five-member board met in executive session Tuesday as part of its ongoing talks that include an annual evaluation of the superintendent’s performance and the review of Maloy’s rolling contract, which currently is set to expire June 30, 2020.
Board President Sheila Wills, responding to a voicemail left from The Aspen Times, replied with an email saying “the only thing I can really tell you is that the superintendent’s annual evaluation is not complete.”
Asked if the board had decided about Maloy’s contract, Wills replied, “I am sure you understand that I am unable to provide you with any information concerning actual discussions that occur during executive session.”
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Maloy on Wednesday morning continued his outreach effort to district parents with a blast email with the subject line “Apology to Staff and Parents.” The email comes when the school district is in the middle of its homecoming week pep rallies, special events and athletic contests.
“There has been much discussion about our schools and my leadership over the past several weeks in private and in public,” Maloy’s letter states. “I want to acknowledge that there are staff and parents who feel disenfranchised and hurt and I am deeply saddened and sorry that they feel this way.
“It has never been my intention to exclude anyone, hurt anyone’s feelings or retaliate against anyone, but I understand that there are some who feel that I have done so. The parent group is speaking for teachers and others who feel they have been wronged, which means I cannot reach out personally to individuals to apologize, listen to what you have to say, hear how you feel, talk about how we can make things better and build a relationship of mutual trust and respect.
“Please know that I am sorry. I care about how you feel, my door is open and I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you.”
Maloy said he issued the statement because he has a clearer understanding of the concerns expressed about the district under his leadership.
“The past four weeks have been difficult yet transformative for me,” he said in an email to The Aspen Times. “I am very proud of our schools and have always tried to lead with integrity.
“My initial reaction to what I was hearing out of sincere concern from invested groups and individuals was to be hurt myself and to defend the district, my team and myself. I have had time to reflect and have realized that whether or not I intended to be hurtful, there are individuals who feel that I was, and how they feel matters. I want to acknowledge their feelings and apologize for anything I have done to make them feel this way. Therefore, I am hopeful that anyone who feels they have been wronged will accept my heartfelt apology and will be willing to reach out to me as I welcome the opportunity to meet with him or her.”
Maloy has found himself on the defense occasionally during his nine years as the district’s superintendent, but the recent movement to oust him has taken on its own identity.
Early September marked the creation of the Aspen Parent Action Committee, which came after the school district learned in July that its director of human resources, Elizabeth Hodges, had been disbarred in April by the state of Missouri over estate-planning for a couple in her previous career as a lawyer. A Missouri grand jury also indicted Hodges, who took the school district job in July 2016 following on-the-job training, for a felony in February 2016, a charge to which she pleaded down to a misdemeanor for deceptive business practices in December 2016.
Maloy and Wills have publicly supported Hodges and praised her work as the HR director.
Some parents, however, have said that Maloy’s support for Hodges was the tipping point for them to put pressure on the board to not renew Maloy’s contract.
Parents also have said that teachers upset with the administration are afraid to speak out against because they worry they about retaliation. The parents group also collected numerous anonymous statements from faculty members expressing their dissatisfaction with the school district under Maloy’s leadership.
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The coronavirus threat delayed the opening of developed campgrounds in the Roaring Fork, Fryingpan and Crystal valleys. The Forest Service will phase them back in by June 12.