ALBANY, Ore.---Former Greater Albany Public Schools district superintendent Melissa Goff is speaking out after getting fired by the school board in July.
Goff started out as a middle school teacher in Mitchell and then became the assistant superintendent first in Portland and then Philomath.
"When GAPS opened up as a permanent opportunity and I saw that they were looking for an equity driven leader, I knew that was a good move for me," Goff said.
Goff was the superintendent for GAPS for the past two years. She said she knew Albany was divided in terms of political views, but she was focused on spreading values that matter to her.
"People of color, people who are LGBTQSIA+ identified, giving them the chance to be in the education ranks," Goff said.
During her time at GAPS, Goff said she implemented the All Students Belong policy as well as an educational equity policy.
But Goff said things took a turn when a new board was elected.
"I was disappointed to see the amount of political action and campaign money that came into this school board race," Goff said. "Particularly seeing leadership from places like Oregon Right to Life and donations comes in from huge corporations like Entek."
GAPS new school board was elected in May. When they fired Goff, it was at no cause but Goff believes it may have been due to a difference in values.
"We already see in the school board meetings that certain voices are not allowed to be heard," Goff said. "The immediate action by the new superintendent to undo the high school schedule change was a signficant blow."
The board chair Eric Aguinaga has stated that the termination was not because of Goff's position on diversity, equity and inclusion.
In a statement, Aguinaga said: "The termination of the former superintendent’s contract came as no surprise to anyone in Albany who was paying attention to the issues. There are no bad people involved in this situation. Everyone is trying to do their best job in a difficult education environment. I personally believe that our former superintendent did her best, but things did not work out well."
The board hired Rob Saxton as the interim superintendent and said he emphasized importance on diversity, equity and inclusion before getting hired.
Goff said she's known Saxton for years and was surprised the decision to hire him as interim was made so hastily. She said she wishes him success because she's worried about the students.
"What I want ultimately is for the students in the Greater Albany Public Schools district to not feel the pressure and the politics in the community," Goff said.
Goff said she does not plan to take legal action against the school board and she is focusing on time with family and other opportunities at this time. She said she's been heartwarmed by the community support.
"A lot of the parents at the school district reached out positively," Goff said. "Certainly all the chalk in front of the district office has been inspiring to me."