Investigator reports to Moffat School board

MOFFAT — An Adams State University (ASU) official reported to the Moffat School Board Tuesday on progress he has made in the investigation of the April 4 incident involving an altercation between two Moffat School administrators.
Michelle Hashbarger, former principal and Karen Hazard, former acting superintendent, are currently on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Kurt Cary, vice-president and chief operating officer at ASU, addressed the board in executive session. Interim Moffat Schools Superintendent Linda Stagner reported Tuesday that the investigation is still ongoing and nothing further will be made public at this time. Cary is the former longtime superintendent for the Centauri (North Conejos) school district.
Superintendent Kirk Banghart, currently on medical leave, attended the meeting and also spoke to the board during executive session regarding his status as superintendent. No information was released on his future plans for returning to the school.
According to an incident report written by Sheriff Dan Warwick April 4, “The incident apparently [occurred] because Hashbarger was upset the school was not closed for the day due to snowing conditions.”
Written statements by faculty and office personnel show that both Hashbarger and Hazard were yelling and cussing each other out. When the altercation became physical, staff members had to intervene to halt the fighting.
Hazard wrote in her statement following the incident that Hashbarger hit and scratched her.
Reports indicate that during the altercation, a student stood in front of the office door to prevent other students from seeing what was going on. The staff member noting this in the statements commented that the student’s action was more adult than those of the principal and interim superintendent.
Following the incident, a staff member decided it would be best to send students home, given the circumstances.
Warwick said it was decided citations for disorderly conduct would be issued to both women because the altercation occurred on school property during school hours in the presence of minor children and parents.
During the April 24 school board meeting, one attendee objected that even though there was no electricity at the school the morning of April 4, buses still were sent out to collect students for school attendance. School Board President Jerry Berry told her buses went out before the power outage happened and even so, there were back-up generators to provide power.
Stagner added that the severe snow conditions did not happen until after the buses left the school and by then drivers were halfway through their routes.
The woman said a comment she posted about the power outage and the school closure was deleted from the school’s Facebook page. Berry said Facebook is “not the best place for the school to respond.” School board member Matthew Crowley told the woman she deserved an answer and he would look into who deleted the post.
Berry noted that the problem April 4 was not with the power outage but with a lack of water at the school. A maintenance person commented that a system to provide water during a power outage is in the development stage and will soon be completed.
A special school board meeting will be held at the school May 1 in the commons area at 5:30 p.m.

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