RUSSELLVILLE, Ark.— The Russellville Board of Education voted to remove Dr. Mark Gotcher as Superintendent in Tuesday’s School Board meeting.
Dr. Gotcher was placed on paid administrative leave through June 30TH and his employment contract will be terminated thereafter, according to a statement released by RSD Board President, Chris Cloud.
The move has many parents in the district demanding answers from board members who voted to terminate Gotcher’s employment.
“The general cry that I am getting is outrage, genuine outrage,” said Robb McCormick, a Russellville School District parent.
McCormick says the decision came as a shock to many across the community and feels the district has never been better than it was under Dr. Gotcher’s administration.
“People are wanting heads to roll, and it’s not Mark’s head they want to roll,” said McCormick. “Anybody who knows Mark is going to know that he isn’t the kind of person to get fired– that’s not Mark.”
The Russellville Board of Education voted 5-2 to terminate Dr. Gotcher.
“We were blind sided by this, we don’t agree with this, this seems shady to us,” said Michael Bucker, another RSD parent.
According to the following statement released by RSD Board President, Chris Cloud, Gotcher was terminated because he was not reaching satisfactory progress to goals set forth by the board.
“On January 20, 2021, the Board of Directors of the Russellville School District evaluated the job performance of its former superintendent, Dr. Mark Gotcher. The employment contract between the Russellville School District and Dr. Gotcher provided that the Board of Directors may extend the contract by one or more years if the Board of Directors, in its evaluation, determined that Dr. Gotcher achieved satisfactory progress toward realizing the goals set forth by the Board of Directors and in fulfilling the mission and vision of the Russellville School District. The Board of Directors declined its option to extend Dr. Gotcher’s contract as part of the January 20, 2021 evaluation. Since that time, a range of issues persisted related to Dr. Gotcher’s relationship with the Board of Directors and his relationship with Russellville School District staff which led the Board of Education to determine that the Russellville School District needed a new leadership. Therefore, after failing to resolve those issues and reach an agreeable end to Dr. Gotcher’s employment relationship with the Russellville School District, on April 20, 2021, the Russellville School District Board of Directors placed Dr. Mark Gotcher on paid administrative leave effective immediately and terminated his employment contract effective June 30, 2021.”RSD Board President
However, in the termination letter we obtained sent to Dr. Gotcher, the Board says he is being fired for showing favoritism to someone in the district by providing them with a badge to access Cyclone Arena on an unlimited basis. The Russellville School District Board of Directors also claim he revealed confidential performance information in regards to a RSD employee.
You can read the full termination letter below:
“If that’s all they have to fire him then I think it would be a good chance to take a look at the board at which board members need to recuse themselves,” said McCormick.
District Spokesperson, Rachel Jones, says an interim superintendent has been named. She says Andrew Vining, who was previously with Clinton Schools will take over for the remainder of the school year.
Dr. Gotcher’s email has been deactivated and was unable to be reached for comment. However, he was quoted telling our content partners at River Valley Now.
“Serving as superintendent of Russellville has been the highlight of my career,” he said. “I will deeply miss the entire RSD community. Thank you for the privilege of serving you. Keep living our vision of Achieving Excellence Together.”