Stagner to make Moffat decision

MOFFAT — Moffat school board members voted that newly appointed Interim Superintendent Linda Stagner should decide what measures should be taken regarding Principal Michelle Hashbarger.

The vote followed the completion of an investigation of the incident and a report on that investigation which was delivered to the board in executive session last week.

Former Interim Superintendent Karen Hazard and Hashbarger were involved in a physical altercation April 4 following a disagreement over whether to close the school for a snow day. The fight occurred in the presence of staff, parents and students.

Saguache County Sheriff Dan Warwick issued citations for disorderly conduct to both women, and both were placed on administrative leave from the school. School bookkeeper Stagner was then appointed to Hazard’s position.

The school board unanimously made the recommendation to Stagner that she decide whether Hashbarger should be reassigned to a new position at the school or face disciplinary action. The board also recommended advertising immediately for Hashbarger’s replacement as principal. School board member Kevin Pesnecker was not present for the vote.

Prior to the meeting, Hashbarger asked the board to announce their recommendation regarding her future in open session rather than discuss it in executive session. The board held a discussion in executive session with their attorney to receive legal advice but did not discuss Hashbarger, school board president Jerry Berry said.

Berry noted Hashbarger’s tenure at the school called for reassignment to a different position under state statute but added that at this time there are no openings for Hashbarger to fill at the school.

When asked about Hazard’s future at the school, Berry said it is not certain.

According to articles in the Crestone Eagle, in 2009 Hashbarger faced reassignment after then Moffat superintendent Charles Warren removed her as principal on allegations of “insubordination.” At that time reports were circulated that Hashbarger had not been pleased with Warren’s selection as superintendent. Personnel policy prevented the school board or Warren from discussing the issue.

Hashbarger was a popular principal who was commended for implementing a Reading First program. She had strong support from parents, students and staff. As a result of his unpopular decision, the board later terminated Warren’s contract and Stagner and (Karen) Hazard were appointed as interim superintendents.  They were placed in the position of deciding whether to rehire Hashbarger as principal.

Things have obviously changed, however, since 2009. There were a fair number of parents and staff who attended the school board meeting Monday, but none chose to speak before the board. The decision concerning Hashbarger was received in silence.

Determining what is to do in Hashbarger’s case will be a difficult decision, Stagner indicated. Hashbarger has been with the school almost 20 years.

Stagner said she doesn’t know how long it will take her to decide what should be done.