WARRENTON - The Warrenton-Hammond School Board has chosen a temporary leader to run their schools next year, despite protestations from local opponents.

George Lanning, a retired superintendent and U.S. Army colonel, accepted the interim superintendent position at a special Thursday board meeting. The vote to offer the one-year contract to Lanning was unanimous.

Lanning's salary will be $95,000 annually, said Linda Dugan, the board chairwoman. 

During an emotional March board meeting, the board voted 4-2 not to renew current Superintendent Craig Brewington's contract for next school year, causing former board member Jim Gannaway - who voted against the nonrenewal - to resign.

The action has riled many in the district, causing them to question the board's leadership and credibility, and demand that Dugan resign. But Dugan and the board are moving forward.

Dugan said Lanning is the right person for the job.

"George meets the qualities, qualifications and duties of the superintendent that were adopted during a public meeting. We are confident that he will begin the process of uniting our district and the community. He has prior experience as an interim and understands the needs of this transition period," she said.

The board met with Lanning in a private executive session before offering him the contract in open session.

Earlier Thursday, the group who asked Dugan to resign at the board's regular Tuesday meeting released a statement about how it plans to continue to oppose the board's actions. It said the group will continue to pursue holding the board accountable to the four demands it made at the Tuesday meeting - including a request that the board suspend its search for an interim to address concerns about the board's conduct.

"We will be bringing forth more troubling school board actions which have occurred, and we will be working toward fact finding, with advice of legal counsel, to resolve the problems which the board has refused to acknowledge or explain. We also look forward to a reply from the Oregon State Ethics Commission," the statement said.   

The statement was signed by Christine Bridgens, Darlene Coffey and Greg Bosin, and said the board violated its own policy  as well as Brewington's contract.

"It remains unclear why Chair Dugan and the board will not answer the community's questions and concerns. What are they hiding? This unprofessional and disrespectful behavior is unacceptable and destructive to the school district and its goals," the statement said.

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