4J Superintendent Investigation Continues

Superintendent Andy Dey’s future at 4J remains unclear in the face of allegations he retaliated against a teacher

Andy Dey. Courtesy Eugene School District 4J.

Andy Dey won the top job at the Eugene School District 4J less than two years ago with a reputation as a heavy-handed administrator.

The 4J School Board selected Dey as 4J’s superintendent in June 2022, despite hearing allegations that he used bullying tactics, especially toward female employees, while serving as an administrator. Most of the complaints were anonymous — several said they feared retaliation if Dey learned the names of people raising concerns about him.

At the time, Dey issued a statement telling KEZI news that he welcomed a “full and open investigation,” and he “would participate in any such investigation willingly and honestly.”

The allegations divided the board, and Dey won the superintendent’s job on a 4-3 vote. Dey didn’t address the concerns publicly but instead spoke with optimism and hope about his tenure as superintendent. 

“I have the opportunity to work with a world-class team of professionals in service to the community and students and families,” he said after his hiring. “It’s very exciting to work with such dedicated colleagues.”

Now, Dey could be in danger of losing his job in the face of new allegations.

As Eugene Weekly first reported Jan. 26, Dey faces an investigation into claims he discriminated against a school employee and then threatened to retaliate against her. Sources familiar with the matter say the employee is a grade school teacher. The school board hired a Seattle law firm to investigate the complaint, and sources familiar with the case say the results are now in the hands of board members. Sources also tell EW that the investigation revealed other allegations of misconduct.

School Board Chair Maya Rabasa, who voted to hire Dey, has declined to discuss or confirm the investigation. Dey has not responded to EW‘s request for comment.

According to 4J, Dey previously “served as the district’s director of secondary education, overseeing middle and high schools.” He was also principal of South Eugene High School. He also served in the Springfield School District as principal of Agnes Stewart Middle School and assistant principal of Thurston High School. 

It’s not yet clear what action the school board members might take regarding Dey.

Board members have met three times in executive session since Jan. 24. Executive sessions are held behind closed doors, and board members have not disclosed the subject of those meetings. But public notices for the executive sessions did say that meetings were held to “consider the dismissal or disciplining of, or to hear complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent.”

The options for the school board are limited.

The board might decide that the allegations against Dey are unwarranted. If so, the board could dismiss the complaint and decline to reveal its findings to the public.

The board might conclude one or more of the allegations are substantiated. In that case, the board could take various disciplinary actions, including firing Dey or declining to renew his contract.

EW has asked school officials for a copy of Dey’s contract and annual salary — both public records. The newspaper is still waiting for a response. Media reports show the previous superintendent, Gustavo Balderas, had a base salary of $241,500 when he left.

Ending Dey’s tenure as superintendent could send the district into another leaderless stretch. Balderas resigned in 2020. The search for his replacement took more than two years, hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic and disagreement among board members about how to proceed.

Sophia Cossette and Tristin Hoffman of the Catalyst Journalism Project at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication contributed to this story.

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