Superintendent suspended
Ken Woodley says school board's actions a mystery

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jun 09/99) - The Yellowknife public school board has suspended its superintendent, Ken Woodley, who says he has no idea why.

The Yellowknife Education District No. 1 board passed the suspension motion at a special meeting last Thursday -- while Woodley was out of town attending to personal matters in Edmonton.

"Out of the blue," is how Woodley described the suspension Monday. "The surprising thing is that my travel plans were known for a month before I was gone, and I'm shocked this would take place while I'm away -- I don't know how that can go on."

Woodley said he left Yellowknife on May 29 and received a call in Edmonton from board chairman Dan Schofield two days later, telling him of the special meeting.

"He told me the meeting would be in camera and that I wouldn't be part of it," Woodley said. "So he said the choice to return was up to me but wasn't a requirement."

Woodley said he stayed in Edmonton until Friday when he received a call from his assistant, Judith Knapp, telling him of the board's decision. He then cut his trip short and drove back to Yellowknife -- with more questions than answers.

The school board announced Monday that the suspension with pay was effective immediately and would continue for a period of 30 days, "to enable the board to more effectively assess and analyze the performance of Dr. Woodley."

The release went on to say the board had commenced a performance review in April, "but did not receive the co-operation anticipated."

The release named Knapp as acting superintendent -- but neither chairman Schofield nor Knapp nor the minutes of Thursday's meeting were available at presstime.

Woodley has been superintendent for 3 1/2 years and said his last performance review took place last fall -- and that the reviews typically occur every two years.

"I was under the impression they were near completing this one, because I was instructed to complete a list of goals for next year," Woodley said, "and that's what I've been working on."

Woodley said he wouldn't speculate on the reasons for the suspension. He also wouldn't link it to the law suit he launched against a local radio station and parent -- legal action he said the board supported.

"I have no idea why the suspension has been given," he said. "In my mind a suspension is punitive, but I haven't been accused of anything, and of course it's very disconcerting -- it could harm my reputation."

Woodley said he's only received one letter from the board but no other contact.

"I will abide by the suspension because it's a legal action by the board," he said, "but I will also be seeking advice...obviously looking at legal advice and good advice to get back to normal."