BULLHEAD CITY — The Colorado River Union High School District governing board voted Tuesday night to reassign Supt. Riley Frei.
Frei will serve as construction supervisor as the district builds the Anderson Automotive Group Fieldhouse, a multipurpose athletic venue near Highway 95 and Bullhead Parkway South.
“We felt that it was in the district’s best interest that Riley be able to focus his energy and expertise on the bond projects,” board President Kari Hoffman said.
She said the move was necessary for CRUHSD “to have our large projects handled properly.”
A $35-million bond issue approved by CRUHSD voters in 2016 includes the fieldhouse, slated to host Mohave and River Valley high school athletic events, along with youth sports and community and other events; the bonds also authorized campus improvements at both schools, including new libraries and cafeterias, a move of the administration building at Mohave to the front of the campus and a new synthetic track at RVHS.
Frei had been leading the district since 2010. The board voted 4-1 to reassign him, with Donna Williamson casting the “no” vote.
Williamson said she supported removing Frei as superintendent, but opposed making him construction supervisor.
“For me, it needs to be a clean break,” she said.
Hoffman said that Frei’s prior construction experience made the decision to put him in his new role easier.
Mohave High School Principal Steve Lawrence was named acting superintendent. He will serve in both roles for now.
Hoffman said board members considered naming Benje Hookstra, the district’s assistant superintendent for instruction, acting superintendent.
However, she said, legal counsel advised them that they could not do so just yet, because Hookstra is under contract with the Bullhead City Elementary School District.
The two districts have shared administrative staff since 2013. Hoffman said the inter-local agreement between the districts would have to be modified for the CRUHSD to be able to appoint Hookstra to the role of acting superintendent.
The BHCESD board meets tonight and has on its agenda an item titled “discussion and possible action regarding district personnel matters and inter-local agreements.”
Frei’s status as superintendent of the BHCESD is not impacted by the board’s decision. The Bullhead City school board would be responsible for any changes on that front.
Tuesday night’s meeting lasted more than four hours, most of which was spent in closed-door executive session.
Audience member Craig Bouchard said before the session began that he thought the matter should be discussed in an open session, as citizens were concerned about the apparent turmoil within the district.
“I wish you would be more forthcoming,” Bouchard told board members. “Do you not want him to be superintendent? Does he not want to be superintendent?”
After the meeting adjourned, audience member Candy Stroh criticized the board’s decision, suggesting that it should have chosen to buy out Frei’s contract and terminate his employment, rather than make him construction supervisor.
Frei was not available for comment.