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Coeur d'Alene School District superintendent seeking job in Yakima

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | May 7, 2024 1:07 AM

Coeur d'Alene School District Superintendent Shon Hocker is again in the running for a superintendent position in another out-of-state school district.

Hocker is a finalist for the superintendent position of the Educational Service District 105 in Yakima, Wash. The position will be vacated by the current superintendent, Kevin Chase, who will retire at the end of the school year, according to the district's website, esd105.org. The chosen candidate will transition into leadership July 1.

In a Monday letter to Coeur d'Alene School District employees, Hocker said he initially applied at three places of potential interest when he decided to explore various opportunities. The district in Yakima is the second and final organization where he is a finalist. He said he is not a finalist for any other position.

"Despite the mean and nasty posts circulating on social media about my candidacy, including some sent to the communities and school districts where I am a finalist, I want to reassure you of my commitment to the well-being and success of our school district," Hocker said in the letter, which was sent Monday afternoon to The Press.

"I recognize that some may wonder how that statement can be true if I am also potentially exploring other professional opportunities," he wrote. "Two things can be true at the same time, as they are for me in this situation. I am committed to the success of our school district, and I have also looked into other opportunities. For me, they are not mutually exclusive."

He said he recognizes his interviews have become a distraction at a time when the Coeur d'Alene School District has other challenges to meet.

"For that, I apologize," Hocker said in the letter. "I will work very hard to minimize those impacts as we implement the difficult but necessary actions our board of trustees approved at their last meeting and develop a balanced budget for FY25."

The three finalists for the Educational Service District 105 are: Hocker; Educational Service District 105 Deputy Superintendent Shane Backlund, who has been in his current position since 2022; and Midland County Education Service Agency Superintendent John Searles of Michigan, who has been in his current role since 2011.

The position for which they are vying oversees 25 public school districts and 21 state-recognized private and tribal schools in south central Washington.

The candidates will meet Thursday with three interview panels of Educational Service District 105 staff, superintendents and agency leadership. The district's board of directors will meet with the finalists at the conclusion of the process as the next leader is selected.

Hocker, who has been with the Coeur d'Alene School District since July 2021, recently applied but was not selected for a superintendent position with the Pueblo School District in Colorado. Trustees of the Pueblo School Board voted 3-2 to offer the job to another candidate. Hocker was one of two finalists after a third candidate withdrew.

Before coming to Coeur d'Alene, Hocker spent three years as the superintendent of Dickinson Public Schools in Dickinson, N.D.

In the letter to staff, Hocker said unless and until he decides to accept a position elsewhere, he is dedicated to his job leading Coeur d'Alene.

"Serving as your superintendent is a privilege, and I remain focused on that responsibility to our students, staff and community," he wrote. "Together, I am confident we can overcome challenges and continue to provide exceptional educational outcomes."