Janice Allen: There should be a way to thwart malicious actions

About the writer: Janice Allen is a Newberg resident serving as a direct service professional with MV Advancements in McMinnville. Earlier in her career, she served as associate director of public relations at George Fox University, assistant director of publications at Lewis & Clark College and feature editor at the Newberg Graphic.

There should be a way to challenge a majority vote. It would have come in really handy two years ago in stopping Dave Brown, Brian Shannon, Renee Powell, Raquel Peregrino de Brito and Trevor DeHart from crippling the Newberg School District.

It has been widely speculated as to why these five hired a man with an extremely shady work history as superintendent of Newberg schools.

Some say they hired Stephen Phillips to be a yes man to the traditional values they publicly touted. Some say it was a “sabotage hire,” designed to lead Newberg School District to its downfall, possibly ridding Newberg altogether of an educational institution they consider immoral.

Either way, in 2021, Joe Morelock was fired. And in 2022, Stephen Phillips was hired to replace him.

While Joe had a glowing record of successfully running a district and balancing its budget, Stephen was, at the very time the five interviewed him, the subject of a highly publicized ongoing investigation as superintendent of 175 students in Jewell. And just three years earlier, he had been forced to resign as deputy superintendent of the Beaverton School District for re-posting an outrageously false media message.

There was nothing we could do after this disastrous hire but stand by and hope for the best. Sadly, the worst happened instead.

Under Stephen’s watch, the school district budget now faces a crippling deficit of $4 million. Meanwhile, he was recently named in a federal lawsuit accusing him and two subordinate Jewell administrators with failing to protect a then-14-year-old student from a predatory teacher who has since been imprisoned as a sex offender.

There should have been a way to challenge the majority vote when Joe was fired. There should have been a way to challenge the majority vote when Stephen, who had clearly made a mess of his past jobs, was hired.

Whenever there is danger in a public building, citizens are encouraged to rush to the nearest “In case of emergency, break glass” station. If people elected to serve the public are clearly not serving the public, if they are clearly serving their own interests, citizens should have a like emergency option.

There should be a way to challenge a majority vote when it is so egregiously ill-founded.


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