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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

School Board Terminates Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson From School District, Appoints Susan Enfield As Interim Superintendent

Posted by on Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 8:09 PM

UPDATE Updated with more information at 8:40 p.m. Second update at 10:30 p.m.

Dr. Susan Enfield at the school board meeting tonight
  • Dr. Susan Enfield at the school board meeting tonight
The Seattle School Board voted unanimously tonight to terminate the employment of Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson's contract without cause, which means she will get a severance payment equaling 12 months of her salary ($264,000) and $9,800 in estimated benefits.

The board also voted unanimously to terminate the contract of the district's Chief Financial and Operations Officer Don Kennedy, as well as voted 6-1 to appoint Chief Academic Officer Dr. Susan Enfield as interim superintendent. Enfield's contract will run until June 2012.

Although an independent investigation conducted by attorney Patricia Eakes on behalf of the school board found that neither Goodloe-Johnson nor Kennedy had done anything wrong, it said that they had enough knowledge to prevent the district's financial scandal. A state audit revealed last week that the district spent $1.8 million on a contractual small business program which never benefited the Seattle school district, and instead benefited a private company owned by former district employee Silas Potter. Eakes' report also said that Goodloe-Johnson had been aware that external consultants the Sutor Group had warned the district about Potter, but she never discussed the report with the school board.

Director Betty Patu, who cast the sole dissenting vote for Enfield's appointment, said she did not support many of Enfield's earlier decisions in the district, including closing down programs without any explanation. "You should have met with community organizations before closing these programs down," said Patu.

"I will be supporting this recommendation, it is my feeling that Dr. Enfield is a quality educator, someone who has dedicated her life to children, her background as an ESL teacher tells me she is incredibly aware at the most basic level of what it means to educate children," said Director Harrium Martin-Morris.

Steve Sundquist: angry and disappointed
  • R.B.
  • Steve Sundquist: "angry and disappointed"
"She's the real deal," said Director Sherry Carr. "In my work with her she has proven to be very capable and has strong management skills," said Director Peter Maier. "Important to me in these unsettling times is that Dr. Enfield has very strong people skills, which will be needed at this moment."

"This is a very difficult time for us," Enfield said, appearing for a few minutes after the board's vote. "Our immediate priority is to restore public trust." Enfield said that the district had already begun a search for an interim chief financial officer and chief operating officer. "I will make sure that we hire only the best people for these positions," she said. Enfield also committed to being out in the community, listening to questions and concerns. "I will continue with an open door policy," she said. "I am committed to strengthening communication with the district and city and community partners."

Enfield acknowledged that it was a challenging time for the district, but that it "also presents us with an opportunity to come together." Enfield's contract is affective immediately.

The district's Legal Counsel Noel Treat said that terminating Goodloe-Johnson's contract "without cause" avoids the potential litigation, liability, and legal costs associated with a for cause termination. Efforts on the part of the board to reach a "mutual termination agreement" with Goodloe-Johnson were unsuccessful.

An outside consultant had agreed that the board would have a very difficult time "supporting a for-cause termination," Treat said. The board expressed anger and shock over the recent audit report and said that the district's culture of fear and secrecy needs to change. "There were a series of red flags that went unheeded, there was fear of reprisal, and many failed to act on complaints," said School Board President Steve Sundquist.

Director Peter Meier said that he had received a copy of the Sutor report and was told by Potter's boss Fred Stephens that Potter was no longer managing the small business program. But Meier found out later that this was not the case and that the program had instead expanded under Potter during a hiring freeze. "I have lost confidence in Maria Goodloe-Johnson and I believe change is necessary," he said.

School board Director Michael DeBell called "the financial scandal, the cronyism, and the obvious lack of transparency an insult" to students and Seattle taxpayers. "I want to apologize to you, your taxes were wasted on an ill-conceived and poorly-managed program," he said. Without naming names, he expressed disappointment that no apology had been offered by top management.

DeBell said that even before the financial scandal took place, the most damaging thing had been the Seattle teachers union vote of "no confidence" on Goodloe-Johnson. He urged everyone to speak up when they came across corruption and wrongdoing in the district, saying, "we can't hide the bad news."

"It's a painful decision, painful situation," said Sundquist. "I believe Maria Goodloe-Johnson will leave a legacy that is worth our contemplation. I believe her heart has been in the right place. Nevertheless, she must be held accountable for her failure and the failure of her team."


Comments (24) RSS

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Lastly, I wish the Stranger, my favorite local paper, had the resources to do a deep investigation of the "Reform" scam. As we have seen in this current scandal, the whole idea of contracting has become part of race politics and power-playing. The Reformistas use race to privatize. There is lots of money being made. Didn't the superintendent contract with a private company to buy a test that would continue to use race as a grouping tool? Didn't she do this without notifying the school board that she was on the company's board? Didn't she push through the contract with Teach For America, another company that uses race to justify its existence?
Little contracts adding up to 1.8 million in the current scandal; BIG contracts adding up to tens of millions in the bigger picture, all with race as a driver. Get on it, Stranger!
Posted by jetcityhelix on March 4, 2011 at 8:35 AM · Report this
I would modify my statement that very few people care about the ex-superintendent's race: Some, the "Reformers," certainly might have, because the current "Reform" movement, the privatization of public education, is based almost solely on the "acheivement gap." This gap is based on race categories. For instance, in the federal government's eyes, a school that has just a few students not passing the HSPE, if those students are of color, is classified as a "failing school," which of course is ridiculous.
So race DOES matter to some, to the "reformers" who have been running around denigrating educators and public education. The entire scam is based on race, as minority communities are convinced that the HSPE score is all that matters, that the schools are "failing" their children, and their best hope is for the reformers to charterize the schools. Additionally, when one looks at race politics, one sees such "reform" groups as the Our Schools Coalition pop up to demonize educators: this new coalition was formed solely to publish a biased "survey" that said, yes, teachers suck. This "coalition" was mainly minority groups, a couple politicians, and a few business organizations. This "coalition" was the product of the Alliance for Education, a Gates-funded "reform" group that funnels money from Gates into SPS to get "reform" agenda items through. They created OSC to do this, to influence contract negotiations. So politicos, business people, and the leaders of some minorituy groups signed on to lend the sheen of authority to OSC. There were certainly quid-pro-quos involved. OSC claims to represent the entire community of Seattle, but it represents only Gates and the interests of the minority community groups Gates has co-opted to drive through its agenda.

I feel for minority groups: As a privledged person, I see their need for power, capital and access. Unfortunately, they are being used to drive privatization. Where once these groups had the support of people out for social justice....educators, for some of them are being led (perhaps by power brokers within their ranks) to side with "the enemy." Privatization will lead to minorities being trained to do menial tasks, to be given a lesser education. Those with the means will make sure their children will get deeper, more meaningful education, but the poor, and many minorities, will be left with a "public" education system that is merely teaching to the test.
Posted by jetcityhelix on March 4, 2011 at 8:30 AM · Report this
TskTsk, nobody "coveted" Enfield, you just made that up. Additionally, the audience at the meeting was not "all white": Three Blacks spoke in testimony. As to the audience advocating for their child to switch classes depending on where their teacher went to college, that's just BS. Many were teachers, many were parent/guardians, and teh p/gs CERTAINLY do not check to see where teach went to college. Your comments are evidently based in some worldview that sees things only based on privledge and race. There IS privledge and, unfortunately, still "race" (whatever THAT is), but making statements that are merely generalities based on your worldview is not the way to get valid points across.
In my opinion, very few people (or at least the people who have been working for the superintendent, or are active and interested in the situation) care about her race.
Posted by jetcityhelix on March 4, 2011 at 8:11 AM · Report this
Education remains the last frontier of Institutionalized Racism. I think the school board, parents and (perhaps) teachers wanted MGJ gone because they coveted Dr. Enfield. Harvard, Stanford and Cal-Berkeley???? Does anyone else find it slightly ironic that so many people are thrilled with the selection of this woman, who is a recent employee?? Washington is full of conservative liberals who like to pat themselves on the back for tolerating "others". Sadly, I watched the news coverage of individuals (all white) clapping and singing at the school board meeting regarding the decision to dismiss Dr. MGJ. These are the same type of people who advocate for their child's removal from one class to another depending on where the teacher went to college. I wonder if they teach their children to behave the same way if something displeases them? Hopefully, Dr. MGJ learned a valuable lesson in Washington. People of Color can not succeed without the validation of whites. Hopefully, she will be more successful in a state that does not expect her to be a "model minority".
Posted by TskTskonU on March 3, 2011 at 12:33 PM · Report this
@19, don't forget her reputation for texting and rolling her eyes during school board meetings and her 90+% vote of no confidence from the Teachers union. The woman was a train wreck of an administrator from day one.
Posted by Pol Pot on March 3, 2011 at 8:49 AM · Report this
@16 & 17. There is more to it than the $ involved in this latest incident. Last Fall she release figures on the percentage of HS grads that were "prepared" for college right before the Levy election. She later admitted the numbers were false. She let a no-bid contract ($4.5 million as I recall) for testing to a Portland outfit where she was on the Board. She did this without telling the School Board of her conflict of interest. In this latest fiasco, she has known about this for at least six month, probably longer, but did not tell the School Board. These are not the only examples that can be cited. She was fired because of questions about her honesty and forthrightness in dealing with the School Board. This $1.8 million problem was just the straw that broke the camel's back.
Posted by ratcityreprobate on March 3, 2011 at 8:00 AM · Report this
@16, I wasn't defending her ouster - I don't know enough about any of this to say what's going on. I'm just trying to catch up with the rationales people are claiming.
Posted by gloomy gus on March 3, 2011 at 7:41 AM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 17
I'm curious how much money we put into the various proposals and studies for the viaduct replacement and we are still trying to flush that money down the drain. Does that compare to this lost money?
Posted by TheMisanthrope on March 3, 2011 at 7:27 AM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 16
@14 The principle of scapegoating? OMG, she lost $400k per year in bids and such. She lost <1% of the budget. Totally demonized and scapegoated. And the school board knows it.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on March 3, 2011 at 7:21 AM · Report this
@8: Yeah she's hot.
Posted by xxxSTEVExxx on March 3, 2011 at 2:35 AM · Report this
@12, the annual operating budget is around $550 million, and the capital budget about $250 million. $1.8 million lost over the last five years won't close any schools, no, but it's the principle, right?
Posted by gloomy gus on March 2, 2011 at 11:15 PM · Report this
Good riddance to bad rubbish. Let's hope we can undo the damage she did to alternative programs in the district.
Posted by Pol Pot on March 2, 2011 at 11:15 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 12
Is it just me or is $1.8mil just a drop in the bucket?
Posted by TheMisanthrope on March 2, 2011 at 10:59 PM · Report this
Westlake, son! 11
That's a hell of a severance payment. About the only way to make that much money from the city for being evil is to have a badge and murder someone.
Posted by Westlake, son! on March 2, 2011 at 10:45 PM · Report this
Just as Charlie Sheen predicted.
Posted by Zander on March 2, 2011 at 10:12 PM · Report this
seatackled 9
Fuckers should have let her sue. She could go after that severance money while she's trying to land another job, and she could have been put under the microscope at any civil trial, couldn't she?
Posted by seatackled on March 2, 2011 at 10:00 PM · Report this
I would like to coin the term "ISILF."
Posted by paulus on March 2, 2011 at 9:24 PM · Report this
Steve Sundquist uses an interesting word - contemplation. No, when I look back, I see much more damage than good. No, I don't believe her heart was in the right place because she never really cared about this district. She rode in here on her ambition and leaves on her hubris. Goodbye and don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Posted by westello on March 2, 2011 at 9:12 PM · Report this
rara avis 6
@4: Five or six years is make or break time for teachers - get your pro-cert (or National Boards) or get your administration credentials and get the hell out of classroom for good. Enfield's had a ton of jobs for being only 42, none of them, after teaching, lasting more than 2 years. That's suspect to me.

When I've dealt with her personally she seemed like a MGJ clone (aloof, condescending, unwilling to go address real questions of the district party line), but maybe that will change without MGJ around.

I'm totally on board with your statements about a supe with lots of classroom experience and an aversion to those big business ed "reformers". Right now I'll just be happy that MGJ has finally been shown the door.
Posted by rara avis on March 2, 2011 at 9:02 PM · Report this
GlennFleishman 5
Let's not play revisionist here. Goodloe-Johnson made a number of decisions that previous boards and superintendents were incapable of. Recall that one of her first moves coming in was to close the ineptly run at-risk high school at which the principal was receiving a huge salary and essentially never on site, among many other problems. She was willing to make the call on closing schools, and changing difficult policies like sibling preference. The board was strong enough to back her on unpopular moves.

Were these all good decisions? I can't say. But I prefer a decision being made when the facts seem to indicate the right one instead of the endless dithering that characterizes most efforts in Seattle. We'll have to live with some bad outcomes, but we'll benefit from many good ones.

On the down side, I never spoke to a single teacher nor school staff members anywhere in Seattle who had anything good to say about her. Most grumbled (some quite openly) about the increase in headquarter staffing, which I don't have numbers about. As teachers and support staff were being cut, that was what was being said. If it's untrue, she messaged this quite poorly or the union was effective in undermining her. If true, it's another sign of bad management.

For Seattle's climate, she really had no ability to relate to people. From what I have heard, she is a perfectly decent sort, but no one ever felt she cared about the impact of decisions she made. Expect the next super (if we can get one) to be more touchy feely.
Posted by GlennFleishman on March 2, 2011 at 8:56 PM · Report this
#2 Perhaps Enfield is a problem, I don't know, but she does have 6 years teaching High School English 1993-1999. That is probably more than you will find with the typical school administrator. If Enfield in not suitable as a Superintendent, I hope they find someone with substantial teaching experience in a public school and someone who has had no dealings with the Broad Foundation.
Posted by ratcityreprobate on March 2, 2011 at 8:43 PM · Report this
prompt 3
I guess we can make that about $2.1 million on services never received now, huh?
Posted by prompt on March 2, 2011 at 8:41 PM · Report this
rara avis 2

Now they'll give the position to Enfield, which is tolerable only if it's interim, they boot her at the end of the interim contract and then don't give her job back as CAO. Clean slate.

Enough with these ladder climbing politicians that switch jobs every two years and who don't have a fucking clue about what kids and teachers face in the classroom.
Posted by rara avis on March 2, 2011 at 8:26 PM · Report this
Banjax 1
Ding dong.
Posted by Banjax on March 2, 2011 at 8:18 PM · Report this

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