Tim Ricker

Tim Ricker

Rockwood School District interim Superintendent Tim Ricker issued a reminder that threats and uncivil behavior toward Board of Education members and district employees will not be tolerated.

Ricker read a memorandum during the Oct. 7 board meeting from the U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The U.S. Department of Justice released the attorney general’s message Oct. 4 to address “an increase in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members, teachers and workers in our nation’s public schools.”

“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values,” Garland wrote. “Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”

Ricker said he read the letter because of threats and unruly behavior at board meetings.

“We’ve had various numbers of individuals show up to our meetings and display behavior that the board and I believe went beyond what would be civil discourse,” Ricker said. “Behavior that could be seen as threatening to board members and to the extent that they were called out, and there were some intimidating kinds of behavior.”

Ricker said threats from last school year and this year have already been reported to authorities.

“We had various individuals choose to threaten some of our employees,” he said. “Some of those threats were also reported to police departments and/or the FBI.”

Ricker said he would not give details about threats because they are the subject of open investigations, but he said some contained “racial connotations.”

“They (the threats) could be racially motivated threats,” he said. “They could be innuendo. They could be harmful threats that provide mental stress on people. It could be things of that nature.”

Last school year several Rockwood employees were assigned home security because of threats, the district previously reported.

Ricker would not comment if any employees currently had extra security.

He said if an employee gets threats, a “safety plan,” which might include extra security, is put together.

“We don’t take it lightly, because there’s the physical aspect of any kinds of threats and then there’s this social, emotional and the mental part of it,” Ricker said. “We’re concerned about the employee as a whole.”

Superintendent search

Rockwood will use School Exec Connect of Oak Park, Ill., to help select the district’s next superintendent.

Board members voted unanimously Sept. 16 to hire the firm for an estimated $30,250.

The Missouri School Boards Association submitted the lowest of six bids for an estimated $23,750, according to board documents, but the board selected School Exec Connect.

“The board went through all of the proposals that came through our formal process, and we were conscious of cost and experience,” board president Jaime Bayes said.

School Exec Connect posted the position on its website, schoolexecconnect.com, on Sept. 17.

Bayes said the firm and district officials will begin screening candidates in December and interviews are planned to start in January.

Ricker was named the superintendent for this school year after Mark Miles announced his retirement at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

Ricker is being paid $230,000. Miles was paid $231,750.

Bayes said School Exec Connect will hold community forums to give students, parents, employees and others an opportunity to tell the firm what qualities they would like to see in the next superintendent.

A staff public forum is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Rockwood Summit High School, 1780 Hawkins Road, in Fenton, and a community public forum will follow at 6 p.m.

Another staff public forum will be 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, at Marquette High School, 2351 Clarkson Road, in Chesterfield, and a community public forum will start at 6 p.m.

School Exec Connect will use the forums to create a profile for what board members should look for in the next superintendent.

The firm is expected to report its findings from the forums at the Nov. 18 board meeting, which is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at Eureka High School, 4525 Hwy. 109.

Rockwood also has posted a survey seeking community input about the search on its website, rsdmo.org.

Community members can fill out the survey until Oct. 29, and the district plans to post the results on its website.