The Kodiak Island Borough School District has been scrambling to fill one of two teaching positions in the village of Ouzinkie. The school district has already begun interviews after firing a teacher early in the semester.
The school in Ouzinkie normally has one elementary teacher, and one secondary teacher for middle and high school aged students.
Lester McCormick’s first day as the village’s secondary teacher was in January, but his last was just two weeks into the semester. On Feb. 4, KIBSD began searching for his successor after discovering issues with his certification.
Dr. Cyndy Mika is the KIBSD superintendent. She says the district is unable to comment on the *specifics* of his firing because decisions regarding personnel are confidential, but Mika says they followed district policy.
“We followed our regular procedures on the background checks,” she said. “Unfortunately, when there’s an investigation, that isn’t public until the hearing.”
McCormick could not be reached for comment. But according to documents from the Idaho State Department of Education in 2017, he submitted falsified documents claiming he received superintendent certification from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Although neither his principal’s nor teacher’s certifications were suspended or revoked by the department as a result.
The school in Ouzinkie serves 12 students between the elementary and secondary schools, including seven students in Kindergarten through 5th grade, and five students from grades 6 through 12.
Mika says the older students may have to wait a while longer until they can find a suitable long-term replacement.
“We have interviewed people and they’re going through the hiring process stages right now,” she said. “As soon as we get them through our entire process, which includes background checks, checking certifications, all of that, and taking them to the board for hire, we will be able to issue them a contract. They will be coming from the lower 48 so plus the travel to get here.”
Mika says some of the candidates could be in Ouzinkie as soon as March, but it’s too early to know exactly when. In the meantime, Kodiak teachers will cover the classes there.
“Last week, we had two town staff that were there covering, and then today we had another town staff that went out, and then we have a long term sub/retired teacher that’s going to go out for the next three weeks,” she said.
The school board’s next scheduled meeting is Monday, Feb. 20.