DCSD Superintendent Danny Frazier to retire in June

May 23, 2017

After 27 years in education, seven with DCSD, and two as the superintendent, Danny Frazier says it is time to spend more time with his ailing wife.

. DCSD board president Chris Napoli puts an arm around superintendent Danny Frazier Monday, just after Frazier announced his retirement. Also pictured, board members Patty Luckhurst and Bernina Venua, and board secretary Avanelle Wood.
Credit KDLG

KDLG: Dillingham City Schools will begin a search for a new top administrator for next year. Superintendent Danny Frazier used Monday’s school board meeting, the last of the year, to confirm the rumor that he is stepping down.

“After 27 years in education, I am retiring on June 30,” he said.

Frazier was the assistant superintendent for five years before he was hired to fill the vacancy left when Bill McLeod retired in 2015.

Frazier cited his wife Kathleen’s health as the reason it is time to make the change.

“We have been apart for seven years,” he said. “She has pulmonary hypertension and is terminally ill. It is time we spent as much time as possible together.”

Monday’s meeting was sparsely attended, but several spoke warmly of Frazier’s time on the job.

“This year has been a really tough year, district-wide, school-wide. I think Danny has handled every obstacle he’s faced with grace over the past two years,” said Liz Clark, the special education coordinator. “I’ve had the pleasure working beside him, day-in, day-out, and he’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met.”

Frazier was the target of heated criticism over the district’s budget priorities, his salary increase last year, and some problems that were identified with the special education record keeping several years ago. He is often reserved and unassuming, but firmly believes the district has been moving in the right director under his and McLeod’s tenure.

Superintendent Danny Frazier presents Asa Ruby with a degree during Friday's commencement.
Credit Kevin Tennyson

“The staff and I have teamed up for many great accomplishments,” he said. “Test scores that equal the top five school districts in the state. The top ten in sending students to college without need of remediation. And a 94 percent graduation rate,” he said of the class of 2017.

“We have not reached 100 percent graduation rate yet. Many great accomplishments are still to come.”

Frazier studied business administration at New Mexico State University, then received a teaching certificate and later school administrator credentials there, too. He taught computer and business classes in New Mexico, then transferred into special education, and eventually transferred up to Alaska. Frazier led the special education program in Wrangell, then worked for the state Department of Education, then the Fairbanks North Star Borough. There he met Bill McLeod, who brought him along to Dillingham seven years ago.

He was “promoted from within” to the top spot by a 3-2 vote of the school board in 2015, at a meeting that had many calling for a full recruiting process to replace McLeod. At that time, then-principal Bill Schwann was among those who supported Frazier for the job.

“I’d say character, integrity, hard-working,” he said, indicating towards Frazier who was seated nearby. “As my grandpa used to say, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Thank you.”

Board president Chris Napoli broke a 2-2 tie in favor of hiring Frazier. Many of his skeptics never warmed over, and the board, administration, and a core group of parents had a strained relationship over two years.

Board member Patty Luckhurst spoke just after Frazier’s announcement Monday, just before the meeting ended. “You’re always there, you’re available, you call and keep us informed,” she said. “The kids are first, and the staff, I think you guys run a close second to the students with him. He doesn’t want to see jobs go. I’m just real proud to have spent this time working with you.”

Chris Napoli, the school board president, addressed the next steps to fill the spot.

“We’ve talked about a couple different ideas. We’ll have to post the position, and then we’ll put together a committee of all the stakeholders, and do the process … it’s not easy,” he said.

Frazier officially retires at the end of June. “I regret leaving Dillingham, I’ve had many great times here," he said. "The students in Dillingham are phenomenal."

Reach the author at dave@kdlg.org or 907.842.5281.

Former superintendent Bill McLeod congratulates Danny Frazier on being hired after a school board meeting in Feb. 2015.
Credit KDLG