Superintendent decides Hayden High School principal won’t return next fall
Editor’s note: Hayden High School Principal Steve McDonald contacted Pilot & Today on Wednesday, March 8, to clarify he is currently weighing different employment options and has not turned down the teaching position offered to him by the Hayden School District.
Hayden High School Principal Steve McDonald will not return to the role next fall after the superintendent recommended his contract not be renewed as the Hayden School District seeks to change its leadership team.
Hayden School District Superintendent Christy Sinner said McDonald did not do anything wrong to cause his removal as principal, and she made it clear McDonald was still welcome to work in the district and was offered a teaching position for the 2023-24 school year.
The Hayden Board of Education voted at a Feb. 13 meeting to approve Sinner’s decision to not renew McDonald’s contract and reassign him to an open teaching position.
“I love serving this district, I love Hayden, but partnerships tend to change over time and unfortunately that has taken place between me and my superintendent,” McDonald said. “I didn’t anticipate moving from Hayden after all the progress that has been made. We have increased our school performance framework at every level this year.”
McDonald first served as principal for Hayden for the 2021-22 school year. He was principal for the entire district from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade before transitioning to just the high school for the 2022-23 school year. He said the superintendent rated him effective in this position in performance reviews for both years.
However, McDonald said he does not plan to take the teaching position. He disagreed with the decision made by Sinner and the school board and filed a grievance following the meeting.
Tammie Delaney, president of the Hayden school board, said the board agreed with Sinner’s decision to not bring McDonald back next year.
“We upheld her direction due to several incidents over the last couple years,” Delaney said, though she declined to discuss specifics of those “incidents,” citing a personnel issue.
Delaney emphasized the incidents were not severe in nature and the district would be happy to have McDonald return next year as a teacher. She stated he was a wonderful educator and the district sees him benefitting the school more as a teacher than as a principal.
“He does still have a position here; it’s just a different position,” Sinner said.
Sinner said the removal of McDonald has nothing to do with former high school boys basketball coach Casey Schaeffel being accused of distributing kratom to athletes.
On Tuesday, March 7, Steamboat Pilot & Today filed a Colorado Open Records Act request for materials pertaining to McDonald’s removal. The Colorado law requires a response within three days.
The district is in the process of compiling a hiring team to look for a new principal. The district also continues to look for a new superintendent, with Sinner announcing her departure earlier this year.
Kit Geary is the county, public safety and education reporter. To reach her, call 970-871-4229 or email her at kgeary@SteamboatPilot.com.
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