Former worker: Suspended Williston principal “not equipped for the job”

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 1:59 PM CST
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WILLISTON, N.D. (KUMV) - A principal in a Williston elementary school has been on paid leave since October. This week, the school board voted to consider discharging him.

Dr. Robert Smith is not a new face to the Williston Basin School District. He has been a principal at Round Prairie and Garden Valley for several years. Holly Radke has kids attending Round Prairie and called him an amazing principal.

“I’ve never heard of any complaints. Talking with other parents at Round Prairie from past years, I haven’t heard of any complaints from them. We are all kind of in shock on what’s going on,” said Radke.

In an effort to save costs, Smith was transferred to Bakken Elementary in June. Four months later, parents were given notice that he was placed on paid administrative leave.

The board voted unanimously to turn that paid leave to an unpaid suspension and pending discharge Monday. There was no discussion from the board on the matter and public comment was denied so that the board could make an impartial decision.

“I would say that [the public] needs to trust the process. There are issues that occurred that I can’t go into specifics with, but are significant,” said Richard Faidley, superintendent.

While the details are being kept hidden for the investigation, it’s obvious that Smith’s time in the Williston Basin School district is over. For some, it’s disappointing to see him go. For others, it’s been a long time coming. Only the board knows what caused this chain of events, and how long until Smith is properly discharged.

Emily Cowan, who was the assistant principal at Bakken, is serving in the interim.