Lawrence school board accepts COO Hayden’s resignation during brief, weather-disrupted meeting

photo by: Mackenzie Clark

Lawrence school district staff and administrators take shelter in a central stairwell and a nearby hallway at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive, on Tuesday, May 29, 2019, as a tornado passed through Douglas County.

Lawrence school board members approved the resignation of a top district administrator during a brief meeting Tuesday after a tornado struck Douglas County.

Kyle Hayden, the district’s chief operations officer, has accepted a position as chief finance and operations officer for the Blue Valley School District in Johnson County, according to a news release from the district.

Hayden’s resignation is effective June 30. The board also approved a contract with Hayden for transition services, effective July 1 through Aug. 3, regarding district construction projects that are still in progress.

Construction will be complete at Free State High School and Liberty Memorial Central and West middle schools by the end of the summer. The only remaining project will be a “three-year transformation” at Lawrence High School, according to a news release from the district.

Hayden has managed the district’s capital improvement and facilities master planning, according to the release. Further details about Hayden’s transitional contract were not immediately available Tuesday.

Kyle Hayden

Hayden served as superintendent of the district for 2016-2017 and served five years as assistant superintendent of business and operations, according to the release. In May 2017, he stepped down from the superintendent post into what was then a newly created role of COO, the Journal-World reported.

The district “will assess this open position and other needs as part of planning for the 2019‐2020 school year,” according to the release.

Board President Jessica Beeson and board members Kelly Jones and GR Gordon-Ross were present for the meeting. Members Shannon Kimball and Melissa Johnson called in; Jill Fincher and Rick Ingram did not attend. The board needed at least four members present for a quorum.

The Journal-World attempted to reach out to Hayden for comment via Twitter Tuesday evening but did not immediately receive a response.

However, Hayden did tweet: “Looking forward to the next leadership challenge @bvschools — thanks to all who have worked alongside & supported me @usd497 the last 8 years! I wish you all the very best.”

Taking shelter

The full extent of the tornado’s damage in and around Douglas County was unknown as of late Tuesday.

However, district spokeswoman Julie Boyle said that Monte Westfall, director of virtual education, had reported to her that the Wakarusa Valley Elementary School building showed no serious damage, but its lights were off. That building, at 1104 East 1000 Road, was in or near the tornado’s path.

Several district staff members and administrators stood or sat in a central stairwell and a nearby hallway at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive, from about 5:45 through 7 p.m. Tuesday as the storm passed through town. Among them were Superintendent Anthony Lewis; Deputy Superintendent Anna Stubblefield; Jerri Kemble, assistant superintendent of leading, learning and technology; and Dave Cunningham, executive director of human resources and chief legal counsel.

Patrick Kelly, director of the Lawrence College & Career Center and Douglas County commissioner, shared immediate updates from the county as he received them. He also streamed video footage from an area news station on his phone. Various staff members shared updates as they received them via text from family members around town.

The board opted to defer its regular agenda to a later meeting. That included a request from middle school athletic directors and coaches to reinstate seventh grade boys and girls basketball and to add cross-country for seventh and eighth graders, as well as reports on communications and the Kansas Education System Accreditation. The board next meets on Monday, June 10.

Editor’s note: A photo of a leaning tree at the school district offices has been removed from this article. District spokeswoman Julie Boyle told the Journal-World that the tree has been leaning that way for years and was not damaged by the May 28, 2019 storm.

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