CCSD board rescinds Levinski's discharge notice

Noel Lyn Smith
CCSD Superintendent Don Levinski speaks April 14, 2015, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Naschitti Elementary School in Naschitti. Levinski was officially discharged by the district in November.

FARMINGTON – Four members of the Central Consolidated School District Board of Education have rescinded the discharge notice for Superintendent Don Levinski.

Board President Charlie Jones Jr., Vice President Ruthda Thomas, Secretary Christina J. Aspaas and Member Randy Manning voted in favor of rescinding the notice during a work session Tuesday evening in the district's board room in Shiprock. Board Member Adam Begaye did not attend the work session.

Andrew Sanchez, the attorney representing the school board, said on Wednesday Levinski remains on paid administrative leave.

On Aug. 18, the board voted 3-2 to remove Levinski and place him on paid administrative leave. It also appointed former Supervisor of Schools Colleen Bowman as interim superintendent.

The board ratified that decision on Aug. 24, then voted on Nov. 12 to officially discharge Levinski as superintendent, as well as denying his request for a due process hearing.

Prior to voting to rescind the discharge notice, the board met in executive session for more than an hour late Tuesday. After reconvening in open session, Manning made the motion to rescind the discharge notice and replace it with a similar notice at a later date. There was no discussion before the board voted to pass the motion.

In an interview after the work session, Jones reiterated the board's decision and declined to comment further, citing the need to talk to Bowman.

"She is the acting superintendent, so she is the one I would have to sit down with," he said.

Sanchez, the board's attorney, said issuing a new discharge notice would "re-trigger" the discharge hearing process under state law. In the meantime, Bowman remains the interim superintendent, he said.

Eleanor K. Bratton, Levinski's attorney, said she was not aware of the board's decision when reached on Wednesday. She said the board did not have just cause to remove Levinski in August or in the time since then, and she repeatedly has requested mediation for a settlement in verbal and written communication with the board's attorney.

"They know we are requesting mediation for the purposes of bringing a buyout for Levinski's contract," Bratton said.

Last year, Levinski's contract was extended to June 30, 2018, and his salary was raised from $110,000 to $125,000 annually.

Earlier in the work session, the board listened to a report outlining the need to approve an expenditure of $469,000 to settle nine cases brought against the district. Further information about the cases was not disclosed because each one is related to personnel matters, but the settlement would need to be approved by the board.

A request for action on the settlement was removed from the Feb. 16 regular meeting agenda by board consensus.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.