An Oakdale school administrator, whose body was found Wednesday in a Woodbury park, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said Thursday.
Joe Slavin, 45, was principal at Skyview Middle School and also served on the South Washington County school board.
“This is a very difficult time for everyone that knew Mr. Slavin. The family is grateful for the outpouring of support,” said Michelle Okada, a Woodbury police spokeswoman.
Slavin’s body was found about 8:30 a.m. at Carver Lake Park in southwest Woodbury. The Ramsey County medical examiner determined the cause of death but further investigation could take up to eight weeks, Okada said.
Slavin became principal at Skyview, a school of about 900 students, in July 2013. He had been a school board member for the South Washington District, which does not include the Oakdale school where he worked, since 2015.
“Joe was a thoughtful person who had only the best interests of our students and community in mind as he served on our school board,” said Keith Jacobus, superintendent of the South Washington District, which has central offices in Cottage Grove. “We are sincerely sorry for his beautiful family.”
Thursday’s school board meeting would be held as scheduled, according to a statement from the district, “because we know that Joe had a passion for education and the work we do here in South Washington County Schools.”
Board Chairwoman Katy McElwee-Stevens planned to call for a moment of silence to recognize Slavin’s efforts on behalf of students and staff.
‘Such a loss’
Slavin was married and had three daughters who attend school in the South Washington District. As a youth sports coach in Woodbury, he had “widespread connections in our community,” said spokeswoman Barbara Brown.
He would have started a new assignment on July 1 as director of communications and technology innovation for the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District.
Slavin had worked since 1995 in the district, where he was an instructional technology coach and developed and taught courses at the university level.
Teachers and other staff members remembered him as a practical jokester who worked hard to improve learning for students, Superintendent Christine Osorio said.
Counselors and social workers met with Skyview students as they came to grips with the news of Slavin’s death, one day before the start of summer vacation.
Reactions to Slavin’s death reverberated at other Oakdale schools as well. Staff members at John Glenn Middle School sent lunch to their colleagues at Skyview in a show of support, Osorio said.
Shelley Cordes said Slavin was a champion for her seventh-grade son in the Skyview special education program.
“He always told me, ‘You call me anytime,’ ” she said. “He was just one of those people you could always count on.”