SEATTLE - The Seattle Public Schools board voted 5-2 to make Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland permanent in the position through June of 2017.
The board first made the public aware of the intention to hold a vote in their agenda posted online the night before Thanksgiving. The news took many parents and teachers by surprise. Complaints over a lack of process for the public to give input cause the board to delay the vote for one week.
Wednesday night, despite a small number of citizens who spoke in support of holding a search for more candidates, the board voted to give Nyland a permanent contract. Board directors cited his four decades of experience as an educator, including his role as superintendent of Marysville schools.
He was approved, despite an amendment from board directors Sue Peters and Betty Patu, who proposed extending his contract for only one year through June of 2016 instead. Peters said this would give people time to evaluate Nyland and offer input.
Nyland was appointed interim superintendent for the 2014-2015 school year and has been on the job for four months.
But the amendment from Peters and Patu failed. The two directors were then the only two dissenting votes cast against giving Nyland a contract through June of 2017.
Before the vote, the Seattle Council Parent Teacher and Student Association told KIRO 7:
"Seattle Council PTSA does not have a position on whether Dr. Nyland should be hired, but rather we feel that a process to gain parent and community input should still occur to make sure Dr. Nyland is the right person to be the Superintendent of our schools, regardless of whether there is a search for other candidates The decision to hire Dr. Nyland as the permanent Superintendent has been very rushed, and parents had not known that he was being considered. There should be a process similar to the process the district uses to hire interim Principals, where input is gathered from school staff and teachers, parent surveys, and community meetings before a final decision to hire is made."
Jonathan Knapp, the president of the Seattle Education Association, said he would have also liked more notification that the board would forego the search process. But he said he supports the choice of Nyland, because he said Nyland has shown himself to be a capable leader and a good listener.
The board also read a letter from the principals of Seattle schools, of whom a majority expressed their support for Nyland as well.