By Myers Reece, 6-29-12
||Caption: Whitefish High School principal Dave Carlson welcomes attendees to the annual Veterans Day assembly at the school in 2011. - File photo by Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
Only weeks after a student sit-in and an outpouring of community support helped save his job, Dave Carlson has resigned his position as Whitefish High School principal.
The Whitefish School Board approved a separation agreement with a 4-1 vote on June 25.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Whitefish School District must pay Carlson his annual salary of $86,263, to be reported as miscellaneous income with no state or federal taxes withheld, which District Business Director Danelle Reisch said saves the district money.
Reisch said the school district will pay Carlson by using money saved in heating and snow plowing costs in this year’s budget, so it won’t affect next year’s budget.
The school board has started a process to fill Carlson’s position, which is temporarily vacant, Reisch said. The board will see if there are any in-district transfers available and if not will open up a search process.
As his part of the agreement, Carlson voluntarily resigned and “shall assert no legal claim against the District, its trustees, agents or employees for any action taken prior to the effective date of this Agreement.”
Both the district and Carlson agreed not to make any public statement regarding the terms or circumstances of the resignation.
On May 21, Whitefish High School students staged a sit-in after hearing that Carlson might lose his job. Later that day at a school board meeting, Superintendent Kate Orozco recommended that the board not renew Carlson’s contract without giving a reason.
More than 100 students reportedly showed up at the meeting with many holding signs declaring: “Save Mr. Carlson.” Parents, teachers and community members also showed their support at the meeting.
After a lengthy public comment period, Orozco changed her recommendation and the board voted to renew his contract.
Carlson took over as Whitefish High School principal in 2009. Among his accomplishments was his role in pushing for a school bond to reconstruct the aging high school.
After an extensive public planning process, voters overwhelmingly approved a $14 bond in March. Two previous bonds had failed.
Carlson told the Whitefish Pilot that he plans to stay in Whitefish and will explore his career options. Orozco did not return phone calls seeking comment.
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