Farmington Schools administrators try to buffer resignation upheaval

As Farmington Public Schools parents wonder about the lasting effects of several high-level resignations, one assistant superintendent says top administrators are working to absorb the impact on teachers and students.

Last week, trustees approved a separation agreement with Dr. Bob Herrera, then saw the resignations of Board President Pam Green and Vice President Terry Johnson. In addition, trustee Angie Smith was censured for “conduct unbecoming a board member.” Herrera had filed a complaint with Green alleging Smith had harassed him.

Dr. Kelly Coffin, Assistant Superintendent of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives, said Friday that trustees have the option of choosing either an internal or external candidate to serve as interim superintendent. Herrera remains in his position until January 22 and will serve as a consultant thereafter.

“He is still attending meetings, he is still communicating with the board,” she said. “Sometimes, there can be an abrupt stop, but that’s not been the case here, and that will allow for a smooth transition.”

‘Little or no interruption’

Change is challenging under any circumstances, but the COVID-19 pandemic adds a complication. K-5 students are in remote learning until January 11, and 6-12 students, until January 25. During their November 24 meeting, trustees will discuss proposed Early Childhood and Special Education return to in-person learning plans.

Coffin said a team of top administrators meets every Monday, working collaboratively to keep the district moving forward.

“That system has ensured that things continue,” she said. “We’re getting feedback from principals and teachers that they’ve been able to do their work with students with little or no interruption.”

Long-lasting impacts

Coffin said internal processes for developing a new strategic plan continue, and residents can look for opportunities early next year to get involved. Also, she said, administrators will continue to support trustees as they go through the hiring and appointment processes.

“This is a unique time,” Coffin admitted. “What we have tried to do as a Central Office team is to absorb that… and really to buffer our teachers and to some extent our administrators so they can focus on the work of educating the students in our district.”

While the district will manage moving forward, she added, “I think sometimes we don’t see the effects of something like this maybe for a year or two.”

“As far as what we know about educational organizations, continuity of leadership is critical when we think about being able to provide the best outcomes for our students,” Coffin said. “Any disruption at the top of the organization, while the day-to-day work can continue, there certainly is an adjustment that will be made system-wide.”

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