Longtime Prosser Superintendent Ray Tolcacher is on paid leave from the school district and it’s unclear when or if he will return.
Tolcacher is one of the longest serving superintendents in the state and previously announced plans to retire at the end of this school year.
The Prosser school board and Tolcacher agreed on his leave effective Tuesday night, school board President Peggy Douglas told the Herald.
Douglas said it was a mutual decision. She would not give a reason for the leave and Tolcacher could not be reached.
Prosser officials said in a Thursday afternoon statement that the district and Tolcacher are negotiating his contract and retirement.
“These negotiations are private and privileged,” said the brief, unsigned release.
It remains unclear who will be in charge while Tolcacher is gone. Calls were being referred to Deanna Flores, the assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, but she did not return messages on Thursday.
The school district serves about 2,800 students split across three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school.
School district voters signed off on a $69.3 million bond last year. Plans called for building a new high school, while conducting renovations at the other buildings.
The school district has signed agreements with architects and a construction manager for the project.
These negotiations are private and privileged.
Prosser School District
Tolcacher, 71, started at the district 25 years ago, after beginning his career in California. He worked as a elementary and junior high school principal before becoming the assistant superintendent at the Lennox School District near Los Angeles, and then the superintendent for the Windsor Unified School District north of Santa Rosa.
He went on to serve as the president of the Association of California School Administrators before moving to Eastern Washington to become Prosser’s superintendent.
After he announced plans to retire, Northwest Leadership Associates was hired to lead the search for his replacement. The organization began the process in 2016, but it is unclear how far along they were in finding a replacement.
Tolcacher planned to help with the transition for the new superintendent.
Occasionally controversial, Tolcacher never shied from doing what he thought was right. Within a year of taking the position, he decided to remove two copies of Brock Cole’s The Goats from the middle school library after parents complained about two lines describing a naked woman being rescued.
Since then Tolcacher took stands to enforce dress codes, turned down a $14,000 donation from a marijuana-related business and most recently, he placed two school district employees of administrative leave following their statements on social media about the Day Without Immigrants boycott last February.