Tribal leaders express ‘no confidence’ in superintendent of Ketchikan schools

Ketchikan High School. (Photo by KRBD)
Ketchikan High School. (Photo by KRBD)

Tribal leaders in Ketchikan say they have “no confidence” in the school district’s top administrator. Ketchikan superintendent Beth Lougee is facing allegations she’s mistreated Alaska Native faculty.

letter to Ketchikan’s school board from all but one elected member of the Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Council stops short of calling for Ketchikan Superintendent Beth Lougee to be fired.

But the letter’s message is clear: “trust has been severed” between her and Ketchikan’s Alaska Native community. The tribal council says it’s aware of “numerous instances” of disrespect towards Alaska Native staff and parents — and wants things to change.

“The Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Council proudly represents over 6,000 Native citizens and, on their behalf, we submit this letter as an official notice of a Vote of No Confidence in Superintendent Beth Lougee,” the elected officials write.

At a recent school board meeting, several members of the public accused the superintendent of not providing resources to Alaska Native faculty. A picture circulated of a cultural coordinator working on the floor because her office had no furniture.

So far, Lougee has not answered any of her critics in public. Since Dec. 10, she’s declined or not responded to KRBD’s interview requests.

The criticism comes as the superintendent is due for an evaluation by Ketchikan’s school board. Lougee’s contract is up for renewal in 18 months. Under the terms of her contract, the district could terminate her employment with “good cause” without paying her a severance of up to $145,000.

Tribal Council President Norman Skan issued a statement to KRBD saying the council respects the school board and looks forward to further dialogue. It should be noted that his wife, Sonya Skan, serves on the school board.

The tribal council says it’s the first time in its 80-year history that it’s written a letter expressing no confidence in a Ketchikan public servant. The only tribal council member who did not sign the letter is an employee of the school district.

“We do not take this lightly,” council members write to the school board. “We remind you of your responsibility to all the children and parents in this community.”

Ketchikan’s school board president declined to immediately comment.

Ketchikan’s school board announced Monday that it’s collecting community feedback with an 18-question survey as part of its evaluation of the superintendent. The deadline to submit comments is Monday, Dec. 28. The full letter from KIC’s Tribal Council can be viewed here.

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