Dickinson Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Shon Hocker announced his resignation to staff on Monday, in a departure that will take effect on June 30, 2021.
Hocker's departure comes after his accepting a position as superintendent of the Coeur d’Alene Public Schools in Idaho.
“I am extremely proud of the work we have done during my time here. We have successfully laid the groundwork for many years of continued success with the High Reliability Schools (HRS) focus,” Hocker said. “Although I have only called Dickinson home for the past three years, I have felt embraced and supported by many of you. You have welcomed my family and made us feel part of the Dickinson family. Dickinson will always hold a special place in my heart. However, this opportunity allows us to return to Idaho and puts us much closer to family.”
The school board has called a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 20 to discuss the resignation.
“I thank Dr. Hocker for his dedication and hard work during these past three years. I am especially grateful for his leadership during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic and proud of how our entire district performed,” Brent Seaks, school board president, said in a prepared statement. “Transition can be difficult, but it also presents new opportunities. Our board is committed to making the most of those opportunities, and our district will continue to move forward with our strategic plan and the initiatives we have set into motion, confident in all we can accomplish together.”
The Dickinson Public School District School Board unanimously moved to make the 2018 offer to Hocker, who expressed a willingness to face the challenges in Dickinson head-on and had familiarity with oil boom/bust cycles from his experiences in Wyoming.
Hocker's leadership in Dickinson witnessed many positive improvements, but wasn't without a few minor set-backs.
Among the positive impacts under his tenure, Dickinson Public Schools played a critical role in the establishment of a task force of 22 members to jumpstart the Southwest Career and Technical Education Academy project. The task force and numerous subcommittees developed tentative programs of study, established a governance board in March and are still finalizing a business plan. The program is expected to “train and retain” students in southwestern North Dakota by providing a local option for developing and expanding workforce skillsets on the Western Edge.
In November 2020, DPS purchased the former Halliburton campus for $6 million, which includes seven structures where five of the buildings will be tentatively remodeled for educational purposes. The preliminary estimate for renovations to convert the complex’s buildings from industrial use to educational is approximately $8 million.
Hocker also guided and led Dickinson Public Schools through a tentative year that witnessed education norms change across the globe as a worldwide pandemic saw government bodies implement policies and mandates in an effort to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19. The challenges faced by Hocker and staff resulted in many hours of planning and implementation of novel practices — all but revamping the education system with remote learning.
These challenges brought additional hardships on the faculty and staff.
In his new role with Coeur d’Alene Public Schools, Hocker will oversee a district serving around 11,000 students across 18 schools which include a developmental preschool, 11 elementary schools, three middle schools, two traditional high schools and an alternative high school and dropout retrieval program.