Crook County School District Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson announced Wednesday she will seek a mutual agreement to leave her post. The reigning Oregon Superintendent of the Year cites the recent election of three new school board members that “do not share my vision or mission.”
Johnson released a statement saying she’ll seek a Mutual Termination Agreement at the next school board meeting on Monday, with the goal of stepping down July 6. The intent is to step down before the new school board starts their work.
It’s the latest shakeup for the district after Cheyenne Edgerly, Jessica Brumble and Jennifer Knight — a trio who have come to be known as the “Mama Bears” — defeated incumbents Doug Smith, Jessica Norris and Board Chair Jessica Ritter in the May 16 election.
The three newcomers won their races on a joint platform of ensuring parental rights in education, rejecting use of critical race theory and protecting children’s innocence. They will make up a majority of the new five-person board.
That result played a significant part in Johnson’s decision to leave.
“When the new school board members begin their terms in July, Scott Cooper will be the only existing board member who hired me five years ago. It’s become evident that the new board members do not share my vision or mission for district leadership and how to operate the school district. I believe we are all better when working collaboratively together and focusing on the success of every student. It has become clear that it is in the best interest of the school district – and me – to step aside and allow the new board to select their own leader,” Johnson said in a statement.
The district said there is no current plan for a successor.
Another board member, Gwen Carr, announced her resignation last month. She cited a head injury she’s struggled to recover from. The current board is expected to pick her replacement on June 12.
Johnson was named Oregon Superintendent of the Year last September.
“I’m incredibly proud of the systems we created to produce high graduation rates and track younger students to prevent them from falling through the cracks. We’re making gains in elementary math and English, and the teamwork and collaboration between teachers and administrators are inspiring. We’ve worked hard over the past few years to elevate staff pay so we can compete with neighboring school districts and keep good people in Crook County,” Johnson said. “I’m proud of our fiscal management, which has allowed us to increase programs, retain teachers, and reduce class sizes. We’ve created a comprehensive reading program, improved interventions, and dramatically enhanced our support of Pioneer High School Alternative students.”
Johnson has been with the district since 2017.
“We will miss the incredible leadership that Dr. Johnson brought to Crook County School District. She successfully led us through the pandemic by being the first to reopen schools, developed better systems to track and monitor student progress, raised expectations for student success district-wide while also increasing graduation rates, and built a very strong leadership team. We wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors and thank her for everything she has done for Crook County,” said School Board Chair Jessica Ritter in a statement.