Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A tale of two districts

I posted the other day on St. Paul's own Dr, Harvey's pursuit, then withdrawal, of the Denver Superintendency. Well, The on again, off again, is on again:
St. Paul schools superintendent Pat Harvey was named a finalist Monday to lead the Denver public schools, a job she took herself out of the running for last week but then decided over the weekend she wanted, she said Monday night.

She is one of three finalists, and she said that if the Denver school board offers her the job she would take it.

Harvey interviewed with the Denver board the weekend of June 4, after being approached by a search firm retained by the district, and she said she decided shortly thereafter that she didn't want the job. She pulled her name from consideration Wednesday after it became clear her candidacy was going to be made public.

But over the weekend, "I had a knot in my stomach," she said.

She realized Denver was where the real professional challenge was, and her desire to stay in St. Paul had to do mostly with strong personal connections, she said.

She called the search firm Saturday and put her name back in the running.
I noted that her 6 year run in St. Paul was well outside the norm of that position within the district. I am all for career challenges, I am just skeptical that it is the primary reason for her desire to seek employment elsewhere.

But while one urban educational leader is being recruited to remain in her post, her colleague on the other side of the river is fighting to remain:
The Minneapolis school board is poised to set a six-week deadline for Superintendent Thandiwe Peebles to improve her performance.

But as the board prepared to get tough today, anger erupted among black leaders on the city's North Side over criticism of the school chief.

The board met for almost two hours Monday morning, much of it with Peebles, and will meet again today with the expectation that she will respond to board concerns. Board members said their concerns go beyond her style to her management ability.

"We want to be clear and thorough about our evaluation before we make any decisions," said board Chairman Joseph Erickson.

Board Member Colleen Moriarty confirmed the proposal to give Peebles six weeks to improve performance, and another member, who asked not to be identified, said most board members seem willing to go at least that far. At least one board member said she wants to terminate Peebles' contract.
Minneapolis can't afford another transition as they face school closings and revenue reductions. Peebles was placed into a position that was already set up for tumult. I haven't reviewed the list of supporters and dissenters, but I am wondering if the line that is drawn is similar to the factions during the Jennings controversy.

Jennings was placed into the superintendency without a full fledged search, and an outcry from local community leaders forced the school board to reconsider their appointment. In the end, they opted to follow through an a complete hiring process, one Jennings chose not to pursue.

AS we close out the school year, the cities face the possibility of having vacancies in both of the urban districts in the metro. The timing couldn't be much worse, as the legislature is still squabbling over funding, the community is still demand results, and the kids are stuck in the middle.

It could be a very long Summer for the respective administrations.


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