Disney resigns from Mishawaka superintendent job before he starts

By: Brandon Lewis Email
By: Brandon Lewis Email

School City of Mishawaka is once again searching for a new superintendent.

At the end of March, Dr. Steven Disney was introduced as the new superintendent for Mishawaka. Disney had received a unanimous vote from the school board.

But on Thursday, Disney announced his decision to resign as Mishawaka Superintendent.

"The closer that this decision came and the actual move was just getting tough for us as a family to realize that dad wasn't going to be here every night," said Disney.

His family, while initially supportive of the move to Mishawaka, expressed their excitement to remain in their Valparaiso home.

"I was nervous because I was going right to middle school and I wanted to have some friends, just in case, but I'm happy he got the job there, but I was going to really miss Valpo," said his daughter Samantha.

The tipping point came when Disney's wife was unable to find work near Mishawaka, meaning she would either have to give up her employment or he would have to commute. Two options he said weren't feasible.

"I think, too in these current economic times with Carrie not being able to get a position over there and just looking what was best for the family," said Disney.

Instead, he will remain the superintendent of the Oregon-Davis Community Schools, where he has served in the top role since 2007.

"[I] just realized that sometimes the most important thing are family and we didn't want to be separated and had some conversations with my current school board and they said you can always change your mind," said Disney.

His decision placed School City of Mishawaka back at square one, since they were set to welcome Disney on July 1st.

"I think there's a lot of disappointment and we're even disappointed, but they respect it and I respect them and just appreciate the support and confidence they showed," said Disney.

Mishawaka School Board President Marci Sears declined to comment on the resignation, instead referring calls to the corporation's attorney Michael Trippel.

Trippel did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Disney would have taken over for R. Steven Mills, who resigned in April 2010 after admitting to a secret marriage with Joann Shaw, an administrator in the district, without filing state-mandated paperwork.

After the interview, Disney released this statement in response to some critics:
I have been told about all of the comments and postings. My first belief, information and discussion is essential in an American democracy. There are many factors that have gone into my decisions, and I realize I have not always made the best decisions. However, I have always tried to act on behalf of kids. I appreciate the support of students, staff, and the Oregon-Davis community. I also appreciate the sacrifices that my wife, Carrie, daughter, Samantha, and son, Payton have made during my tenure as Oregon-Davis Superintendent.

I can accept any of the criticisms, and many of them are much deserved. I would ask that any criticism of the high school principal stop! We have been dedicated to the Oregon-Davis community and students. We have looked for ways to better prepare our students for the 21st Century. There is a shortage of talented school administrators. For the first time in a long time, during this school year, Oregon-Davis has had an administrative team working together.

We face a difficult time, our public schools have been blamed as a scapegoat for our economic demise in the State of Indiana as well as the country. Yes, we as educators deserve some of that blame. Management and the Teacher’s Association have worked congruently yet not in a manner that is called for under the changing economic conditions of the global economy. Our teachers and administrators have partnered to improve this. Our schools along with our churches, our local businesses, and local government serve as the foundation for our communities.

Six years ago in Indiana, 36% of our students were on free and reduced lunch. In 2011, 48% of our students received free and reduced lunch. This has increased the pressures on our public schools. While at the same time, the State has reduced funding to the public schools that have faced the most greatest economic pressures.

We must unite on behalf of our local schools because they serve as the foundation of our communities. Whether it be Oregon-Davis or Mishawaka, I can attest that both communities have teachers, school board members, and principals that have students’ interests first!


Steven C. Disney Jr.

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