Boots & Sabers

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0739, 15 Nov 17

West Bend School Superintendent On Leave

This story was in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

After more than three months away from his job, West Bend School District Superintendent Erik Olson remains absent from his role. Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Laura Jackson continues to lead in his place.After Monday’s Board of Education meeting, President Tiffany Larson wouldn’t state the reason for the absence, but said “he is on paid administrative leave.” Olson’s last appearance at a meeting was July 24. Since then he has been on vacation, sick leave and administrative leave and continues to receive payment from the district. His administrative leave began at the beginning of October.

I haven’t commented on this because, frankly, I thought it was common knowledge. He hasn’t been at any official meetings for months and the School Board has spoken about it a couple of times. If you email his school address, someone else will respond. But based on my emails and some reaction I’m seeing on social media, this has come as a surprise.

It is frustrating people because the School Board is not telling anyone why he is out. My understanding is that it is due to personal/medical reasons, which is why state and federal regulations prohibit the School Board from commenting on the reason for his leave. If it is because of a personal/medical reason, all we can do is hope for a speedy and successful resolution for Olson and prod the School Board to consider a succession plan.


0739, 15 November 2017


  1. Mark Hoefert

    A reasonable position to take at this time, absent any other verifiable information that may or not be known by those who need to know.  With that being said, I respect the need for the Board to act in a way that honors their fiduciary responsibility to their constituents.  In situations like this, that means walking a very narrow path of disclosure under the guidance of legal counsel – until processes are completed, the safest practice is to say absolutely nothing.  To not do so risks additional expenses that could be better spent on behalf of the students.

    I would like to add that as an observer of school board activities, my impression is that both of the recently hired Assistant Superintendents are performing their duties in a careful, measured, competent manner.  The visioning, community engagement, & accountability responsibilities inherent in the Superintendent position can wait for now – in the meantime day-to-day business appears to be taken care of.

    Thank you for the reporting that you do on the WBSD – it is a fine addition to that provided by the Daily News and Washington County Insider.

  2. Charlie Hillman

    As a previous School Board President, who was involved with the departure and recruiting of a Superintendent, I can attest to the fact that the Board must be very careful with their public statements. I assume they are simply listening to their legal counsel during these challenging times. I wish Eric a speedy recovery. Based on Rick Park’s post on Benders, it seems that Eric had much more serious health challenges than I had imagined. Based upon feedback from various sources within the District, it would seem that things are running smoothly.

  3. Jodi

    I believe people knew he was out for sick leave but as of beginning of October, he’s on “paid administrative leave”. I would think the board would say he’s still on sick leave or personal leave if his absence was related to his recovery. Instead, the term paid administrative leave makes it sound like it’s disciplinary in nature.

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