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Evergreen School Board votes to fire Superintendent Mike Merlino over ‘egregious behavior’

By Web Staff

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    VANCOUVER, Washington (KPTV) — The Evergreen School Board has fired Superintendent Mike Merlino in a 4-1 vote over what board members called “egregious behavior.”

According to a news release from the district, the board terminated him without cause. That means they’re on the hook for a year’s worth of his salary, or about $306,000, according to The Columbian.

The news release didn’t give any details about the behavior that led to his firing, but emails obtained by FOX 12 show it was for abuse of power and retaliation. An investigation found that Merlino was reportedly dating a school district employee and wanted her promoted. When a personnel administrator told him it was a conflict and an inappropriate promotion, Merlino allegedly persisted until the administrator reported him to the school board and the district’s attorney.

The emails say after Merlino found out that the administrator reported him, she was “disinvited/not invited to attend meetings where HR matters were discussed, she was alienated, marginalized, and unfairly blamed by him for certain matters.”

Other details from the emails include an incident from August 2020. It’s described as follows:

“The supervisor of Mr. Merlino’s girlfriend realized that the girlfriend had not updated an absence on the District database as required. The supervisor sent an email to Mr. Merlino’s girlfriend, reminding her to update her absences. The presumption is then that Mr. Merlino’s girlfriend went straight to Mr. Merlino, upset about this email; Mr. Merlino then raised this issue with the Board saying that the supervisor was targeting his girlfriend. This is an abuse of power. Instead of telling his girlfriend to discuss with her supervisor or appropriately raise the issue up the chain, he interjected himself into the situation and he went straight to the Board.”

All four board members said they believe there was enough evidence to fire Merlino with cause, but board members Julie Bocanegra, Victoria Bradford, Ginny Gronwoldt and Rob Perkins said that could ultimately cost the district more through legal expenses until there was a settlement.

Board member Rachael Rogers voted no in the special session and said she supported Merlino’s immediate termination, but would have rather terminated him “for cause” in light of Merlino’s “egregious behavior” uncovered during the preliminary investigation.

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