Durango School District 9-R Board of Education members issued a statement backing Superintendent Dan Snowberger after granting an automatic, one-year extension allowing his contract to proceed.
“Notably, Dan Snowberger has earned the trust of his principals across the district’s 12 schools as well as the respect and support of many thoughtful leaders in our town, with his leadership being appreciated for how he has cultivated leaders and given principals autonomy to shape their schools,” board members said in the statement.
The extension of the contract, which will carry Snowberger through the 2020-21 academic year, comes after Snowberger’s contract was renewed in September and he was granted a 2 percent raise, bringing his annual salary to $169,320.
In the statement the board members released Friday, they said: “... each member of the board believes strongly that we have the right superintendent for the job to: support the district’s 5,000 students; hire and retain the best staff and teachers; and use the community and state-entrusted funds as wisely as possible.”
The contract extension caps a tumultuous few months in Snowberger’s tenure at the school district.
Late last month, School Board President Nancy Stubbs admonished Snowberger for using district email to air his “personal agenda” in response to media stories about him. In an email Snowberger sent to 9-R staff on Dec. 21, he accused The Durango Herald of publishing a “defamatory document without the opportunity for me to present facts.” He said he had “personally engaged an attorney to address the libel and defamation of character that some individuals in our community felt appropriate.”Specifically, Snowberger takes issue with a white paper released by a group of residents, employees and former employees in which it called for the superintendent to be fired after it said it found numerous alleged inaccuracies in Snowberger’s résumés and applications for past jobs and 9-R. The group released an unsigned, 46-page white paper, “Misleading Leadership?: A Close Examination of Dan Snowberger’s Educational Career Records,” claiming he misrepresented and provided inaccurate information about his career in education. Snowberger said most allegations made in the white paper issued by the Durango 9-R Central Office Accountability group are inaccurate.
Previous to the admonishment about using his district email to discuss suing the Herald, Snowberger and a parent of 2018 Riverview Elementary School student clashed over allegations his son was sexually assaulted in May 2018 by a classmate. The father claims Snowberger and 9-R mishandled the investigation and compromised his son’s identity and the father has filed two complaints concerning the alleged sexual assault with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
Snowberger also initially denied an incident Oct. 19 at Needham Elementary School involving a 9-R administrator took place. He eventually acknowledged a 911 call that was made about the incident and said he was trying to protect the employee’s privacy, who he said was at the school as a parent, not an administrator.
On Dec. 5, Snowberger issued an apology letter on 9-R’s website about his handling of the 911 incident.