Shepherd bond

Superintendent Scott Carter looks over a building the district has abandoned due to a crumbling foundation and mold. Carter was placed on paid leave by the district last week after a violation of policy related to alcohol use.

The Shepherd School Board voted to terminate its superintendent Thursday night, a week after he was placed on leave after someone at school reported smelling alcohol on his breath.

The board's vote was unanimous to terminate Scott Carter's employment with the district.

The board then scheduled a termination hearing for Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 6:30 p.m., at which Carter may protest the board's decision.

Carter was placed on paid leave last week over allegations he violated district policy, and he described the incident in a letter published Sunday on the Shepherd School District website. He wrote in the letter that he underwent a few days of intensive treatment. 

In his letter, Carter denies ever consuming alcohol at work during his “25-plus year career” and asks for forgiveness from the Shepherd community. He said he will accept “any sanctions the Board chooses to place on me.”

Monday in Shepherd, school trustees appointed district curriculum coordinator Drea O'Donnell as interim superintendent, while also floating ideas like seeking out retired superintendents to step in as a sub. They did not take any action regarding Carter Monday. 

Openshaw said that the school district will start a recruitment process for a new superintendent. 

“I think the board’s plan is to open up the position to anybody who’s interested,” Openshaw said. “Right now we haven’t even discussed full-time positions.”

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A letter from Openshaw posted last week on the Shepherd schools website disclosed Carter's suspension. 

This isn't the first time alcohol has affected Carter's employment. In 2010, Carter resigned from a school district in Kansas following his arrest for driving under the influence in 2009, according to an Associated Press report

A specific date of the incident in question is not included in either letter, but Carter describes drinking Wednesday night and early Thursday morning before going to bed and arriving for work at his normal time. Students in kindergarten through sixth grade and ninth grade resumed classes at Shepherd Wednesday. The remainder of students began class Thursday.

“While I was doing my regular rounds of the building, talking with staff, someone I was talking with thought they smelled alcohol,” Carter wrote. “As it turns out, I did have alcohol on my breath from the night before.”

Since then Carter says he has gone through intensive treatment and continues to work with doctors and counselors for ongoing treatment.

“I came to the realization that I had a bigger problem than myself and immediately sought treatment and counseling,” Carter wrote. “My Family and I love Shepherd. I hope the community can find it in its collective heart to forgive me. Make no mistake, I am not blaming any one nor any thing, just myself. I will accept any sanctions the Board chooses to place on me. I am sorry for my poor choice, and pray that I am allowed to continue leading what we have begun together.”

Carter was hired to be the superintendent in February 2017, after working for three years at the Queets Clearwater School District in Forks, Washington.

The superintendent’s absence comes at a time when the school district is trying to get an $11.9 million bond to pass after a $17.9 million bond failed in May. The bond would fund a building project Carter previously told The Gazette would accommodate enrollment growth for the next 20 years. Ballots for the new bond were mailed on Aug. 23.

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