Burlington-Edison School District delayed its decision on a new superintendent to Monday, March 13, a few days later than anticipated.
The superintendent search process has been criticized by community members who called for better representation of the majority Latino school district in the six semifinalists, one of whom was a Latina woman. After public interviews with the six candidates on March 4, the three finalists, all white men, were announced.
A change.org petition for a “more diverse search board and list of candidates,” organized by a Burlington-Edison High School student, has garnered more than 730 signatures in the week since it was posted. Last Saturday, a small group of community members held signs asking for more representation and a “redo” of the search outside of the high school library, where the interviews were taking place.
Of the 3,357 students enrolled in the district this year, 48.9% are Latino or Hispanic, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
“In order for the Burlington-Edison School Board to thoughtfully process and consider all of the comments and survey responses from the community, the selection decision and announcement of the new superintendent will be delayed until Monday,” the district announced in a March 9 release, pushing back the expected March 10 decision.
The district’s school board will meet Monday morning in a closed session. An online feedback survey about the three finalists closed Friday morning.
The three finalists are Matt Ellis, superintendent of the Prosser School District; Chris Pearson, executive director of teaching and learning for the Marysville School District; and Superintendent Frank Redmon of Quilcene School District.
Ellis has served as superintendent of Prosser School District in Benton County since 2018. He previously served as superintendent of Lind-Ritzville Cooperative Schools, and as a high school principal and assistant principal of two separate districts.
Ellis was the subject of a change.org petition in 2022 after he eliminated the athletic director position in the district, citing budget cuts, the Tri-City Herald reported. More than 500 community members signed the petition, calling to “save” Kevin Lusk, a 35-year school district employee.
Pearson most recently served as executive director of teaching and learning for the Marysville School District in Snohomish County, and before that, as interim superintendent and deputy superintendent. He had a two-year stint as superintendent of Madison International School in Merida, Mexico, and is bilingual.
Pearson also has administrative experience within the school district as the former principal of Allen and West View elementary schools and the dean of students for Burlington-Edison High School.
Redmon has been the superintendent of Quilcene School District in Jefferson County since 2018. Prior to his role in the district, he served as director of Ashgabat International School in Turkmenistan.
The administrator also previously worked in the Marysville School District as principal of two separate schools.