PARADISE VALLEY, AZ — The Paradise Valley Unified School District governing board Monday unanimously accepted Superintendent Dr. Jesse Welsh’s resignation and release agreement, and approved Dr. James P. Lee as acting superintendent pending a contract agreement.
Lee retired on June 30, 2019, after serving as superintendent for 10 years.
Monday’s decision comes after ABC15 confirmed that Dr. Welsh and his family have been the targets of harassment and threatening behavior both at their home and their children's school.
"It's one thing to take to a governing board meeting in the form that's given to them, it's another to hunt somebody down at their home," Mandy Howe, a PVUSD teacher.
Tensions in the community have been high since the district switched all students back to remote learning on Nov. 23, amid concerns over rising coronavirus numbers.
The district has not said why Dr. Welsh resigned.
"I get both sides. [My student] does better personally in school, but if the safety isn't there, I don't want him or any of his teachers, who've been so important to us, to get sick," said parent Leslie Laluna McManis.
Dr. Welsh told ABC15 over the weekend he could not comment on Monday’s meeting, but he tweeted the following response on Monday:
The district issued the following statement Monday afternoon:
During a special meeting, the Governing Board of the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVSchools) voted to approve a resignation agreement for Dr. Jesse Welsh.
After careful consideration over the last few weeks, it has been determined by the PVSchools Governing Board and Superintendent Welsh that it would be in the best interest for PVSchools and Dr. Welsh to separate, effective December 31, 2020.
The events in our community and state due to the COVID-19 pandemic have presented unique challenges over the past several months, and one of those challenges has been adapting to ever-changing circumstances.
Dr. Welsh shared, “I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity and honor that has been afforded to me by the Board to serve the PVSchools community. It has been my privilege to work with the caring and talented educators in our district. I am proud of the work we have done to protect our students, teachers, and families, while providing learning options that meet families’ needs.”
“We appreciate Dr. Welsh’s contributions to our PVSchools community and his dedication to meeting the educational needs of all our students. We thank him for his service and his support of our extraordinary educators, staff, students, and families,” said Governing Board President Anne Greenberg.
The Governing Board has asked Dr. James P. Lee to serve as the acting Superintendent during this period of transition. Dr. Lee retired from PVSchools on June 30, 2019. His 10-year tenure as superintendent, which began in July 2009, is the longest of any superintendent in the district’s 106-year history.