Unexpected Farewell Teaches Lesson to All


Allison Steppach, Reporter

In recent events, Woodland Park’s school district superintendent, Steve Woolf, was pulled over and cited for a DUI after a car accident on Friday, August 28. The Teller County Sheriff sent Woolf home. Our school’s assistant superintendent, Linda Murray, is acting as our temporary replacement until decisions are made about Woolf and his employment. The Panther Perspective sat down with our school’s HR director, Del Garrick, for a quick interview about the circumstances Woolf is under. Garrick wasn’t able to provide them a whole lot of information, as he isn’t allowed to be a part of the investigative process because that would be a conflict of interest. The Panther Perspective asked about our school’s EAP (Employee Assistance Program) as well as other recovery treatments available for Mr. Woolf and Garrick responded; “As a school district, we don’t have anything that we would have a system in place in terms of recovery, we don’t have that systemically built-in but, EAP is a part of it and our health insurance program might have some options as well. It’s typically left to the individual to decide to work on whatever that may be but we don’t have a system in place at the school that would be for recovery or among those types of things”, Garrick is unsure of any treatment that Woolf may have received or if he will reach out for help. This seems to be a very private matter. The Panther Perspective also talked with our school’s assistant superintendent in hopes that they could get more details about the situation, but Linda Murray is also not a part of the decision making behind Woolf’s employment or investigation. She said, “This is strictly up to the school board to decide”. Unfortunately, no other board members were able to be contacted. The Panther Perspective emailed our school’s principal in hopes that maybe he could address it with the school and our students, but he is not allowed to discuss it until further notice. There has been no response from Woolf as his email is shut down. We also reached out to others involved in the crash and didn’t receive any response. The school seems to have this whole situation very tight-knit and private. Garrick made a really good point: “These situations are so hard to deal with from a community standpoint. The community at large opinions are gonna be divided based on what limited facts people know, a lot of people like to form their opinions based on Facebook postings and things like that. That natural division is hard. And if you bring that down to a school-level community there’s a sense of uncertainty that kind of blows through, some people might feel it a lot and some may not even be aware of it. Ultimately we want to get to the best course of action for you guys, for our students. That’s really why we are all here to do what we all need to do and sometimes the best course of action looks different, but everyone is working as hard as they can to make this the best situation possible for our students.” There were many concerned parents, and some very angry. One wonders if the board will address this with its students. Woodland Park is a very close community, and we annually celebrate “Drive Smart” week. It feels ironic that someone who is so important to our school would get themselves in a situation like this. However, we do not know the full story and all we have are assumptions and surface-level information. We as a community need to come together and support one another during these unprecedented times. Learn and grow from one another’s mistakes, instead of tearing each other down and gossiping. The truth will always come out but in its own time. In the meantime, educate one another on the dangers of driving under the influence and make smart decisions. 

(Update as of December 2, 2020) Woodland Park School District released this statement shortly after this article was written, reading “In consideration of the ensuing actions and the impacts resulting from the entirety of the circumstances, the District and Mr. Woolf have reached a mutually approved separation agreement.” We all wish him well on his new journey and hope he has learned all he can from this unfortunate situation.