Seattle School Board Ousts Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson
Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson's is under consideration by Seattles School Board
With a packed audience watching, the Seattle School Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to fire Superintendent Marie Goodloe-Johnson in the wake of two recently released reports that said she did not do enough to protect the district money, nearly $2 million of which was misspent in a now-defunct district small business partnerships program. After the vote to end Goodloe-Johnson's contract and that of district manager Don Kennedy, the board voted 6 to 1 to appointed Susan Enfield, the chief academic officer for Seattle Public Schools, as interim superintendent. Board member Betty Patu voted against the appointment.
Goodloe-Johnson was not in attendence at the Wednesday's board meeting. Several members of the public spoke up at the meeting admonishing the board to look beyond Goodloe-Johnson in its efforts to stamp out "cronism."
Goodloe-Johnson's contract was supposed to run through 2013. With the board's decisions, she will be paid a severance package of $264,000 — a year's base salary — plus an estimated $9,800 in benefits. Kennedy, the district's chief financial and operations officer, will get $87,500 in salary and about $4,900 in benefits.
In a statement to the public Board President Steve Sundquist said Tuesday:
"The investigations reveal deeply troubling actions and a series of red flags that should have been heeded. In addition, the investigations highlight areas of concern that we agree must be immediately addressed, specifically: A lack of management oversight and accountability that allowed potentially fraudulent activity to persist for years without intervention; Missed opportunities on the part of staff—in varying roles and at varying levels— to keep the Board properly informed; A workplace culture within some parts of our organization that caused fear of reprisal among employees who might otherwise report concerns; And Management's failure to act upon those employee concerns that are reported.
The disturbing evidence of repeated violations of the public trust demands swift and decisive action by the Board. We are uniformly committed to restoring public confidence and to ensuring that this never happens again."
Seattle Times Media Center
Members of the publish speak out the School Board meeting at which Marie Goodloe-Johnson was ousted as district superintendent
Sundquist confirmed last week that the board was considering firing or buying-out the contract of Goodloe-Johnson, after two reports found that she did not do enough to protect nearly $2 million in public money that inappropriately awarded to businesses by the district contracting program. He did not confirm for local media whether or not the board is currently in buy-out discussions with Goodloe-Johnson.
The Seattle Times on Friday came out with an editorial calling for the superintendent's resignation. Goodloe-Johnson has not responded to the editorial.
The report that instigated board response was released Friday morning, by Seattle lawyer and former King County prosecutor Patty Eakes, who said that Goodloe-Johnson trusted program manager Silas Potter and his supervisors to run the program ethically. The report did not implicate the superintendent in any misuse of funds. Eakes said instead that Goodloe-Johnson has limited information ab the out questionable spending within the small-business contracting program. The program promoted district partnership with companies owned by women and minorities.
Eakes found no evidence that district employees had told Goodloe-Johnson that they were concerned about program mismanagement under its manager, Silas Potter. However the program got a poor review in 2009 which resulted in Potter being stripped of some authority to award contracts. Because the superintendent was aware of the troubling program review and the reprimand, Eakes said, she should have ensured that the program was properly supervised.
Eakes report follows on the heels of an investigation by State Auditor Brian Sonntag's office that found $1.8 million in payments to small businesses that offer no benefit to the district. Eakes was hired by the district in December 2010 to investigate what role management may have played in the small-business program irregularities. The attorney presented her findings to the Times editorial board Friday, where she told editors that she found that program largely benefited African American businesses.
Following her appointment as interim superintendent, Susan Enfield released this statement:
"As interim Superintendent, I look forward to working closely with the School Board, teachers, staff, parents and community to focus on providing our 47,000 students the highest quality education possible.
This is a very difficult time for us all. I know there are serious questions about our fiscal stewardship that we must, and will, answer for the community, our taxpayers, district staff, teachers, families and students.
Our immediate priority is to restore public trust in Seattle Public Schools. We will begin with the hiring of an interim Chief Financial Officer and a Chief Operating Officer. There is a national search underway for permanent replacements for these positions. We are also replacing the district's internal auditor. I will work diligently with the School Board to make sure we hire only the best qualified people for these critical positions so that we can direct our energy where it belongs: serving our schools, teachers and students.
I will also work to ensure that our financial and operational issues do not detract from the quality of day-to-day teaching and learning in our classrooms. I know from my experience as Chief Academic Officer how incredibly fortunate we are here in Seattle to have dedicated and committed staff at all levels of the system who have continued to keep their focus on our students during these challenging times. I want to thank each and every one of them for this and I will be reaching out in the coming weeks to hear from them how we can work together to move forward in our core mission of educating all students. I especially want to acknowledge our teachers and principals and pledge to them my ongoing commitment to providing them the leadership and support they deserve.
I also commit to being out in the community listening to comments, questions and concerns about the School District. I will continue to have an open door policy so parents, employees and community members can offer input directly on how we can continue to improve.
Finally, I am committed to strengthening communication within the district and across our city with our community partners and our families.
As I have acknowledged, this is an incredibly challenging time for Seattle Public Schools, but it also presents us, both as a school system and a community, with an opportunity to come together on behalf of our students. Now is the time for us to model for them how to responsibly and respectfully engage in difficult but honest problem-solving together. As I said before Seattle is a community that uniquely supports its public schools. I know the community's faith has been shaken by recent events, but its commitment to our students remains strong. I share and will honor that commitment by serving this community, and especially our students to the best of my ability."