MONROE, Wash. - While students enjoy summer break, the Monroe School District is trying to figure out who will lead the district when they return to the classroom.
This week district leaders requested input in their ongoing search for an interim superintendent, while the current superintendent remains on administrative leave.
Dr. Justin Blasko was placed on leave in December 2021 amid an outcry from community members over how he had handled racism within the district. The complaints came to a head during a winter school board meeting, which led to additional concerns about his leadership and alleged inappropriate behavior. An outside investigator came in to examine Blasko’s alleged misconduct, which led to a public report.
The findings painted a picture of a district run through fear intimidation with a leader focused on his personal image unafraid of making sexist and vulgar remarks.
The report is filled with examples of alleged misconduct ranging from Blasko calling various women "b*tch," or "evil b*tch," to calling his leadership team "f*cking snowflakes." Investigators even noted that co-workers reported that Blasko divulged confidential information before his promotion to superintendent, stretching back to his time as the executive director of human resources.
Monroe High School
One passage reads: "Dr. Blasko told one of his staff that he had determined that only women dislike him, and he surmised it was because some women can’t handle ‘really masculine men,’ stating, ‘I’m as masculine as they come; there’s nothing I can do about my masculinity.’"
Those examples, and many others, came from more than 50 interviews and a review of emails and text messages. You can read the full 16-page report, here.
Investigators noted that not everyone had the same complaints – some worked closely with Blasko and had no issues with him, while some of his harshest critics were people investigators believe he would have considered close confidants.
In response to the public report, Dr. Blasko issued a full-page statement through the Monroe School District. In it, he apologized noting his professionalism lapsed – that he vented frustrations in private meeting with colleagues.
"The allegations that have been made about my conduct are deeply troubling," he wrote. "Though in many cases I do not recall making the statements that have been alleged or have a recollection that varies significantly from what is recounted in the investigative report, I do not question the integrity of the people who have contributed to the report, nor do I question the validity of their personal experiences or perceptions."
Since the report was made public, the only public statement on Blasko’s future was a written newsletter from the Monroe School District Board President Jennifer Bumpus: "We are also continuing to work though legalities and personnel matters surrounding the employment of Dr. Blasko. We do not yet have an additional update that we are able to publicly share at this time."
Melanie Ryan, with the Monroe Equity Council a key group that brought issues to light throughout the 2021 school year, told FOX 13 she doubts he returns.
"Monroe Equity Council is operating under the assumption that Dr. Blasko will not be returning to the Monroe School District given references to a subsequent permanent search made by board members in Monday’s meeting," Ryan said. "We advocate for more educator, staff, family and community involvement in both the interim and permanent searches."
Community members have until July 15th to complete a survey that was developed to develop input on the ongoing interim superintendent search.
A search firm, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, that has been brought in to help recruit, screen and select the interim superintendent will also help review survey results. You can see, and fill out the survey here.