Our View: Eagle County’s school board flopped with superintendent hire
January 29, 2019
There are times when employees and employers just don't mesh. It happens all the time. But the case of former Eagle County Schools Superintendent Dr. Carlos Ramirez is different.
Ramirez and the Eagle County Schools Board of Education last week agreed to part ways — a nice of way of saying he was fired — or resigned — with no hard feelings.
The move came after Ramirez had put in just more than eight months on the job. His predecessor, Dr. Jason Glass, resigned in March of 2017 after roughly four years on the job. It took longer to find Ramirez — through a national search — than he spent leading the district.
Ramirez's departure comes at a cost to taxpayers — $195,000 in severance pay plus six months of health insurance. But it seems there are deeper issues at play here.
There are laws protecting the confidentiality of most personnel decisions made by public entities. But the district's statement about Ramirez's departure included a telling quote from School Board President Kate Cochiarella:
"We wanted him to lead within the boundaries of our community-developed strategic plan."
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Ramirez apparently had his own ideas about district leadership.
That difference of opinion is fine. On the other hand, if the people who run an organization believe they have a solid plan for the future, why would they hire someone with different ideas?
"This is how we want to move forward; how can you help us get there within that framework?" should be among the first questions asked in an applicant's first interview. It should remain atop a manager's to-do list after hiring.
Less than a year later, the school board and its top manager apparently agreed that wasn't happening.
It's hard to see Ramirez's departure as anything but a failure on the part of the school board. Either the right questions weren't asked, or someone in the hiring process didn't listen well enough to the applicants.
District officials say they want a new superintendent in place by the beginning of the next school year. That makes sense from the perspective of the school calendar. But this school board needs to slow down if needed. Officials need to ensure the next superintendent's tenure lasts longer than the hiring process.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart and Business Editor Scott Miller.