Lee Elementary principal Don Hakala resigns

The principal of Lee Elementary School has resigned, shifting to a new school post to work one day a week until the end of the school year, according to Salem-Keizer School District officials.

Principal Don Hakala’s last day at the school, located in southeast Salem, was Wednesday, March 20. He couldn’t be reached for comment Monday because schools are on spring break.

He will now be “assisting elementary schools,” district spokeswoman Lillian Govus said, and be on medical leave for the remainder of the year. He will continue receiving his salary of $110,267.

Susan Adams will become Lee principal for the remainder of the year and next school year, Govus said. Adams has worked for the district as a principal coach, helping mentor newer principals in the district, and was filling in for another principal on maternity leave at Myers Elementary until several weeks ago.

Hakala told the district he planned to resign effective June 30, 2019 in a letter dated Jan. 19, 2018. He wrote he would be leaving ”to pursue other employment opportunities.”

He submitted the request for medical leave on March 14, Govus said.

Superintendent Christy Perry met with Hakala and Lee staff March 18 to inform them of the change. Lee families received an automated phone call at home the same day saying Hakala was stepping down for personal reasons.

Hakala has worked for the district since 2008 and started his career as a gym teacher. He served as an assistant principal at Auburn Elementary before coming to Lee in 2014. He was nominated for a Crystal Apple Award for outstanding local educators last November.

Reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.