Emails indicate contract dispute as base for Sukawaty’s departure
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Emails obtained by Hub City Times between former Marshfield High School Principal Steve Sukawaty and Marshfield School District Superintendent Dee Wells suggest growing tension between the two administrators leading up to the May resignation of Sukawaty.
While Sukawaty indicated feelings of oppression and issues with the length of his contract, Wells cited job performance concerns.
“I don’t want to leave, but it sure feels like there is someone or a group of people who want me to leave,” said Sukawaty in a Jan. 14 email to Wells. “This is all very unsettling and confusing to me. I work hard at my position and only seek stability for my family. This makes it tough to feel a part of anything. Maybe I just don’t fit, and if that is the case, a year will not resolve anything.
“Frankly, at the risk of sounding dramatic, this is heartbreaking to me. I love it here. I love this school — its staff, students, and parents.”
“I know you have a passion for the high school and all that it entails,” Wells responded. “We did not get to this today, but I must sit down with you and detail the items for improvement. I want you to have clarity.”
In the emails, Sukawaty asked to address the school board, a request that Sukawaty said he was never granted.
“I was told I was not able to speak to them,” said Sukawaty in a telephone interview. “It was that it was a nonrenewal. Others had received a two-year contract, and I received a one-year, and I wanted to know why and wanted to speak to the board.
“I think there was no justification for (the one-year contract). We had the highest ACT scores in history, and attendance was up.”
“Mr. Sukawaty did, in fact, have the opportunity to address the board about his resignation in closed session before the board (at a May 11 meeting), and Mr. Sukawaty agreed to the terms of his resignation,” said Wells in a recent interview.
At that May board meeting, approximately 200 students, teachers, and parents showed up in support of Sukawaty, prompting a delay and relocation from the district offices to the Marshfield Middle School cafeteria.
“Mr. Sukawaty made a decision to leave the district, and we wished him all the best in his future plans and his move from the district. I would hope that there wasn’t (tension between us),” said Wells.
“It was a very unusual relationship in my eyes,” said Sukawaty. “We got along fine in each other’s company. I think communication was a problem.”