SALT LAKE CITY

School Board, Mayor Erin Mendenhall comment on superintendent leave of absence

Jul 15, 2022, 9:19 AM
Timothy Gadson and Tracy Sjostrom walk down a school hall....
Timothy Gadson, incoming Salt Lake City School District superintendent, and Tracy Sjostrom, principal of Mary W. Jackson Elementary School, talk as Gadson tours the school in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. Photo credit: Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY — Days after the Salt Lake City School District placed Superintendent Timothy Gadson on leave, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and the School Board commented publicly.

Gadson is the first Black superintendent of a school district in Utah. He has held the position of superintendent since last July and was given a two-year contract, according to KSL.com.

A Salt Lake School District spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday that Gadson has been placed on paid administrative leave, but did not disclose why.

On Thursday, Salt Lake City School Board of Education President Melissa Ford and Board Vice President Nate Salazar released a statement about Gadson’s leave.

“We appreciate hearing from our community and want to reassure our constituents that this important, sensitive matter is being handled by the Board in a manner consistent with state law. To protect everyone’s interests, including those of our employees, we do not comment on personnel matters,” the statement read. 

Ford and Salazar also said that there were limits on what the school board could confirm or deny.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported in June that the president of Salt Lake’s NAACP branch, Jeanetta Williams, asked federal authorities to investigate racial discrimination by the Salt Lake City School Board. Williams said Gadson and other Black officials in the district were subjected to a hostile work environment.

In a statement on Thursday, Mendenhall said she expects an “open, honest process from the School Board” following Gadson’s leave. 

“Dr. Gadson has been excellent to work with over the past year. I’ve been impressed with his valuable perspective into ways to improve the educational experience for all of our children,” Mendenhall’s statement said.

Samantha Herrera contributed to the reporting of this story.

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