Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District sees two high-profile departures

Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District sees two high-profile departures
Photo credit: Nicholas Pescod

Two high-profile figures in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District (SD68) have left on the same day.

The district announced in a news release its superintendent was retiring, and within hours, a trustee who was formerly the school board chair announced her immediate resignation.

After being promoted to superintendent in 2018, Scott Saywell quickly became a well-known personality in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District.

His guitar-playing and songs cracked smiles as he informed the community about snow days or congratulated outgoing graduates.

On Friday, after Saywell had been off for roughly six months on an unspecified leave, the district issued a release saying he was retiring.

“We congratulate Scott for a 30-year career at the district,” said school board chair Greg Keller.

“We appreciate all the contributions that Scott has made to advance student success and advocating for the most vulnerable students. It’s sad to see him go.”

CHEK News reached out to Saywell, but he declined to comment further. In the school district’s release, Saywell said he was filled with gratitude.

“Gratitude for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our students, gratitude for the support of our staff, and gratitude for the trust and confidence that you have placed in me to lead this district.”

Charlene McKay, a school board trustee for a second term and former board chair, also resigned on Friday.

The current board chair says it came as a surprise.

“She had many positive contributions to make to the district and the board. Her passion was serving the students, so we thank her for that, and we wish her the best in the future,” said Keller.

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CHEK News reached out to McKay to ask why she resigned but didn’t hear back.

However, she is quoted in the Nanaimo News Bulletin, saying, “I have personally found the work environment to be exceptionally unprofessional. My experiences have included targeted passive-aggressive innuendo in meetings as well as harassment, amateurish e-mail communications filled with communications toward me … and a work environment fraught with outbursts.”

Keller did not want to discuss infighting among the board.

“No. I won’t comment on that our board is 100 percent committed to student learning,” she said.

The Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District says it will not release McKay’s resignation letter without her approval, citing privacy issues.

Keller said he couldn’t say whether the two departures were, in any way, related.

It leaves the district having to fill the two key roles. The trustee position will have to go to a byelection, likely in September.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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