Paso Robles superintendent and athletic director resign

Chris Williams

Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Superintendent Chris Williams announced his resignation Thursday, as did the district’s athletic director and director of human services.

Williams submitted his resignation at a school board meeting in which Paso Robles trustees were scheduled to discuss the superintendent’s midyear performance evaluation. The board voted 6-1 to accept his resignation, and a leadership transition will take place over the next 60 days, according to a school district press release.

Prior to resigning, Williams had just received his ninth consecutive positive performance evaluation, according to the district. Williams, who had served as superintendent since 2014, did not give a reason for his sudden departure from the position.

“It is with the deepest gratitude that we thank Chris Williams for the passion, purpose, conviction and leadership he has provided in the transformation of our district into one of excellence,” a district statement says. 

The Paso Robles Press reports Trustee Chris Bausch cast the lone vote against accepting Williams’ resignation. After the trustees accepted the superintendent’s resignation, board President Joan Summers gave remarks that appeared to pin blame for Williams’ departure on a member of the board.

“It’s tragic that the momentum of one narcissistic board member who has to have control led us to where we are today,” Summers told the Paso Robles Press.

During the meeting, the board also accepted the resignations of athletic director Rich Clayton and student services director Kristin Shouse. It is unclear why the two administrators are departing the school district.

Over the course of Williams’ tenure as superintendent, several controversies arose, some involving the football team, which had two coaches resign in a period of less than a year. Also, in 2017, a school board member resigned, citing disagreements with the district, and earlier in the year, the school board voted to censure Bausch.

Bausch and the other board members have been at odds for multiple years. The other board members accused Bausch of conflict of interest, spreading misinformation and threatening colleagues, while Bausch accused his fellow trustees of punishing him for his dissenting stances on district matters.

Meanwhile, Trustee Joel Peterson told the Tribune Williams’ resignation caught the board by surprise, and it may relate to the results of last month’s election in which multiple incumbents were voted out amid a demand among some community members for change. Peterson said he does not think Williams was in alignment and agreement with the incoming board.

Peterson also said he believes Clayton fully supports Williams. The trustee, though, said he was unsure why Shouse is resigning.