The Durango School District 9-R Board of Education said Tuesday it plans to examine how Superintendent Dan Snowberger handled an incident at Needham Elementary School in October in which 911 was called on an administrator who was reportedly trespassing on campus.
“Once Mr. Snowberger returns to work from his approved leave, we will conduct a mid-year evaluation of him, including an examination of the incident and follow-up correspondence concerning it,” board members said Tuesday in a statement posted on the district’s website.
The statement, which was crafted in work sessions, adds that the board evaluates Snowberger’s performance in three main areas: board-superintendent relations, operational expectations and results policy. The board said it will judge Snowberger in those areas, and conversations will be treated as a personnel matter.
Personnel matters are typically dealt with in secret, behind closed doors.
The board statement said: “The Durango School District 9-R Board of Education appreciates the recent public statement of apology made by Superintendent Dan Snowberger. We value Mr. Snowberger’s achievements, and we applaud his many accomplishments during his tenure with the district. At the same time, our thoughts and best wishes are with his family as they recuperate from last week’s accident.”
Snowberger’s wife, Olga, was injured in an auto accident Nov. 30. Snowberger has taken an extended leave to help his wife recuperate.
Last week, Snowberger apologized in a letter that was posted to the district’s website for his handling of the 911 call on Oct. 19, including statements he made to The Durango Herald when it inquired about the incident.
Police were called to Needham Elementary School to investigate the presence of Julie Popp, the district’s spokeswoman, who was reportedly banned from the school and was on campus.
Board of Education President Nancy Stubbs said crafting the board’s letter was “a difficult process,” and the final product was eventually trimmed from what initially was a six-page document.
“In the end, we boiled it down to the essence of what we thought was needed,” she said.
Also, she said the school board is exploring issuing monthly or bimonthly articles on the website about the board and how it conducts business.
“A lot of people don’t understand what we do, why we do it and how we do it, and we want to try and correct that,” she said.
The Herald had several exchanges with Snowberger in which Snowberger and Needham Principal Jennifer McKenna denied an incident occurred and refused to discuss the matter with a Herald reporter. Snowberger then emailed a reporter accusing the reporter of attempting to “slander an individual without evidence” and he called the effort “sad and despicable.”
In late November, Snowberger and McKenna sent separate letters to 9-R staff and Needham parents offering an explanation of events triggered by the 911 call. But neither Snowberger, McKenna nor the school board has explained why the district’s spokeswoman was apparently banned from Needham Elementary or why the principal told dispatchers Popp could be armed if she returned to campus.