NKSD hire previously fired as superintendent over allegations

The North Kitsap School District has hired former Evergreen Public Schools superintendent Mike Merlino as the interim executive director of business, finance and operations, replacing Jason Rhoades, who resigned last month.

The new hire was approved at the school board meeting March 9. Merlino’s contract would run through spring of 2024, at which time the district would post for the hiring of the permanent position, NKSD communications coordinator Jenn Markaryan said.

Merlino was previously fired as superintendent of the Vancouver-based school district in December of 2021 after an investigation into alleged abuse of power and retaliation, an article from Oregon Public Broadcasting states. EPS ended up paying him his yearly salary of nearly $270,000 to leave under the provisions of his contract.

The allegations of abuse of power involved retaliating against colleagues and showing favoritism to his girlfriend, who also worked at the district. Emails obtained by OPB show at least one fellow administrator complained that Merlino tried to give his girlfriend an “inappropriate promotion,” and would interfere on her behalf when she faced issues at work, the article states.

After the complaints, Merlino allegedly torpedoed the performance reviews of at least one administrator, the emails say. The investigation found he threatened to fire employees whom he said weren’t “team players.”