The Puyallup School Board defended Puyallup School District Superintendent Tim Yeomans at a tense meeting Tuesday less than a week after 1,700 teachers and district employees voted no confidence in him.
Members of the Puyallup Education Association crowded the meeting at Glacier View Junior High, holding signs stating “Yeomans must go!” and voicing their disapproval through shouts and boos as board members read their comments, citing district successes under Yeomans’ leadership.
“For the last eight years this superintendent has been applauded, accoladed, revered across the state, called by many, many superintendents and other professionals in his field for advice or counseling,” board member Maddie Names said at the meeting.
Names likened the union vote to finger-pointing.
“Making a bold statement of no confidence is loud and clear, but I’m not sure I understand the purpose behind it other than to say, ‘We don’t like you, Dr. Yeomans,’ and it reflects an awful lot of what I might hear on an elementary playground,” Names said.
Board member Kathy Yang stressed working together with civility and respect.
“I am saddened and at times sickened by the personal attacks,” Yang said. “Do you think that we signed up to sit here and be subject to vicious and blatant lies and slander?”
People took turns at the podium during public comment to either share their support of Yeomans or voice frustrations and concerns with impending budget cuts.
The Puyallup School District is facing a $13.2 million budget deficit for the 2019-20 school year, which officials say stems from both raises for teachers in September and funding inequities made by the state Legislature.
Yeomans said that most reductions next year will be from attrition and non-renewed contracts, but teachers union president Karen McNamara said that teacher positions will be cut.
McNamara told the board the union stands behind its no-confidence vote.
“Nearly 1,700 people who took this vote of no confidence — we didn’t do it lightly. We didn’t do it simply because we’re angry. We didn’t do it because of job cuts, it’s not about union posturing … it’s because we have no confidence in our current superintendent’s leadership,” McNamara said with a roar of applause from the crowd.
“We are doing it because we are tired of being blamed for a problem created by the state Legislature. We took it because we know having so many kids in a class is not what is best for our students. We took it because we are concerned about the future of this very district.”
Yeomans announced earlier this year he would retire in 2020. McNamara said that’s not soon enough.
“Our children don’t have until 2020 to make a change in district leadership,” she said. “The time is now.”
When asked for comment, Yeomans told The News Tribune that he intends to complete his term through 2020.
“It’s just something we’re going to have to figure out,” he said.