DIETRICH — After a couple of tumultuous years in the Dietrich School District, a new superintendent is taking the reins.
Stefanie Shaw has been interim superintendent and elementary school principal for a couple of months. And on July 1, she’ll move into the position more formally under a two-year contract with an $83,000 annual salary.
Former superintendent/principal Ben Hardcastle — who started in July 2015 — announced in March he’d retire at the end of his contract year June 30.
But Shaw said Thursday she has been filling in for him while he took a medical leave of absence.
Shaw was previously the school counselor for a year and most recently, the secondary school principal for two years.
“My family lives here and I love this community and I love these kids and that’s the reason why I applied for this position,” she said. “It means more for me than just going to another school.”
Shaw, who grew up in southern Utah, said her husband is a Dietrich alumnus and they’ve raised their three children in the community.
They have an incoming college freshman at Utah State University, a high school junior and a high school freshman.
She started her career in education in 2008 as a business teacher at Gooding’s alternative school, where she worked until coming to Dietrich three years ago.
Hardcastle and the Dietrich School District came under fire for an October 2015 attack in a Dietrich football locker room, where white players were accused of targeting a black, mentally disabled teammate.
Both an attorney general’s investigation and Hardcastle’s own investigating showed a culture of bullying and possible racism that was widespread on the football team.
The case sparked national outrage, especially after District Judge Randy Stoker sentenced 19-year-old John R.K Howard, the only person charged criminally as an adult in the case, to probation in February.
Witnesses said Howard kicked a coat hanger into the victim’s buttocks.
Shaw — along with Hardcastle, school board members and football coaches — are named in an ongoing civil lawsuit, brought by the victim of the alleged assault against the district in May 2016.
It claims the sexual assault was the culmination of months of “severe and pervasive harassment, racial discrimination, mental and physical assault and battery.”
The suit seeks $10 million in damages.
The defendants have denied the allegations of the civil lawsuit.
A hearing regarding a motion for summary judgement is set for 3:30 p.m. July 27 in Boise before U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill, according to online court records.
A March statement to the Times-News from Hardcastle about his resignation didn’t mention the football locker room incident. He later declined to provide details about his future plans.
“I have an opportunity that is in the best interest of my family, and the Dietrich School Board has graciously accepted my resignation effective at the end of this contract year,” he wrote in the statement.
As the new superintendent, Shaw said she’ll focus on implementing the school district’s strategic plan. While working with the community, “I was instrumental in creating it.”
She plans to oversee implementation of new math curriculum, CPM, for the upcoming school year for sixth-through-12th grades. She also wants students to focus on building writing portfolios.
Those are all goals outlined in the school district’s strategic plan, she said. And ultimately, she wants students to be prepared for college or whatever they choose to do after high school.
The Dietrich School District has about 220 students in kindergarten through 12th grades.