The Higley Unified School District created an associate superintendent position for Denise Birdwell on Thursday night to keep her in the district.
Birdwell, the district's assistant superintendent of human resources, was offered a superintendent job in a school district in Casper, Wyo.
On Tuesday, Birdwell made the decision to reassign bus driver Kim Sullivan, who was involved in a nationally publicized scuffle with a Williams Field High School student. Sullivan returned to work Wednesday in another capacity.
Birdwell said after Thursday’s meeting that her new position meant she would not leave the district for the superintendent job. The newly created position will have Birdwell oversee human resources and curriculum.
It was a move lauded by many parents in the audience who came to the meeting to voice their concerns about the district, from the high teacher and administration turnover rate they've seen at their children's schools, to how their children are not being challenged in the classroom. Both issues will be overseen by Birdwell.
However, board member Kim Anderson said the timing and the way Birdwell’s new position was formed was a "desperate" reaction after a contentious couple of weeks following the bus driver/student incident.
"I think it's a quick fix and it hasn't been thought out," said Anderson, who added she only heard of the possible position the day before the meeting. "The person we're talking about is highly talented, but I'm not sure human resources and curriculum should be combined. I'm not convinced this would work."
She encouraged the board not to make a decision that night. The board overruled her, with Anderson casting the only dissenting vote.
Board President Ed Moore said Birdwell's new position is "just the start."
"Our focus needs to be on curriculum and how we get there," he said. "We need to make sure our kids are being challenged in their classrooms."