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SALT LAKE CITY — Tim Donaldson, director of Utah's School Children's Trust since 2013, has resigned. The Utah State Board of Education accepted his resignation late Friday afternoon.
In a statement issued late Friday, the State School Board thanked Donaldson for his expertise "and recognizes the service he has contributed to the program."
The board, as part of its regular meeting, conducted a lengthy executive session early Friday afternoon. The agenda had three items to be considered in the closed-door session, including one that said: "Notice of action pursuant to U.C.A. 53A-16-101.6 regarding a vote on the possible removal of the Director of the School Children's Trust Section."
After emerging from executive session, the board acted on teacher licensure matters but State School Board Chairman Mark Huntsman did not address the trust land director except to say much later in the meeting that the board had accepted Donaldson's resignation. Huntsman then asked staff to pull the related executive session agenda item regarding the director from the agenda.
Donaldson did not return telephone messages seeking comment.
There were other indications Friday that Donaldson's status was in flux.
Early the day, Peter Madsen, director and chief investment officer of the Utah School and Institutional Trust Funds Office, addressed the State School Board regarding his experiences with Donaldson.
Madsen credited Donaldson for his support and guidance as the Utah School and Institutional Trust Funds Office, which is an independent team of investors, got off the ground. Donaldson's work on statutes and protocols greatly enhanced the work of creating the office and gave it the latitude it needs as it invests school trust land funds on behalf of schoolchildren, Madsen said.
"I understand Mr. Donaldson has a reputation for upsetting the occasional politician, board member, other individuals, but I've never had such an experience with Mr. Donaldson. I've seen his quick mind and wit in action," Madsen said, speaking during the public comment segment of the meeting.
The School Children's Trust section is "a watchdog of what we do," Madsen explained.
"I've never been upset or felt his demeanor to be of concern. I can say with confidence my staff would echo this sentiment," he said.
The School Children’s Trust Section administers the School LAND Trust Program statewide. The section is within the offices of the Utah State Board of Education. The section oversees activities of the land management and fund investment trustees. It also is responsible for training and supporting school districts and schools as they train of school community councils.
Prior to the state board moving into executive sessions, David Ure, as director of the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, visited the executive offices of the Utah State Board of Education. The trust section works independently of the trust lands administration.
Earlier this year, a bill that sponsor Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, said was intended to give the director of the School Children's Trust Section greater autonomy passed in the House but was not voted on by the Utah Senate.
HB291 contemplated that the director would serve a six-year term, with the option for additional terms.
The legislation was opposed by the State School Board over concerns it was written to protect individuals rather than the position, a spokeswoman said at the time.