Woodburn School District hires former Newberg Inspector

The Newberg School Board fired Joe Morlock for no reason in a November 4-3 vote, which drew fierce opposition from opposing members.

WOODBURN, Ore. – Dr. Joe Morlock, the former Newberg County Superintendent who was fired for no reason in November, has been hired as the new Woodburn County Superintendent.

Woodburn School Board announced the news in a press release on Thursday. Morlock will take up the position starting July 1, and will draw a salary of $ 175,000.

Morlock was one of 18 candidates, according to the press release, and was one of two finalists who met with county staff, students and community members before the council was elected last week.

Morlock is fluent in Spanish, the board noted, and “has a passion and dedication to bilingualism and looks forward to investing in Woodburn’s already extensive bilingual programs.”

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Morlock previously worked in the school districts of Kenby and Lake Oswego. He left Lake Oswego in 2018 to take the top job at Newburgh, initially in an interim role and then starting permanently in 2019.

The Newberg School Board abruptly fired Morlock for no reason at its Nov. 9 meeting. The 4-3 vote drew fierce opposition from the three opposing members, who argued that the process was expedited and lacked public transparency.

This was one of a series of controversial board decisions last year, including a ban on LGBTQ + and Black Lives Matter signs on district campuses, which was later replaced by a ban on all political displays.

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Morlock at one point told the board that he would not enforce the first version of the ban, believing it was unconstitutional.

At a Nov. 9 meeting, the council was due to review Morlock’s decision in late October to allow a teacher poster to remain in place despite complaints of a breach of the updated ban. This clause was filed on the desktop without a decision being made, and Morlock was fired separately later in the meeting.

Board Chairman Dave Brown and Vice Chairman Brian Shannon were both subject to a memorial election earlier this year, with opponents citing the decision to fire Morlock as one of the main complaints. The recall election drew high turnout, and the two members won by a margin of about 52% to 48%.

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