Video: School Board fires Goodloe-Johnson, appoints Enfield

March 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 40 Comments

(ADDED, 11:02 PM – clip of new interim superintendent’s full speech, plus the entire :15 of cheering that followed the Goodloe-Johnson-firing vote, and board president Steve Sundquist’s remarks before the vote)

(WSB iPhone photo showing half of the standing-room-only crowd)
6:07 PM: We’re at Seattle Public Schools HQ in SODO along with a full complement of regional media and a full house of spectators as the semimonthly meeting of the Seattle School Board – led by West Seattle-residing board president Steve Sundquist – begins. As noted this morning, the board will vote tonight on whether to fire Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson after almost four years, amid a money-mismanagement scandal. The meetings always begin with about an hour of public comment, and it is likely to cover other topics; we’ll publish live updates as the meeting (which is likely to last at least three hours) continues.

(READ THE REST OF THE WSB AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE, AND SEE VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS, AFTER THE JUMP)

(continuation of as-it-happened coverage from earlier in the evening) We likely will also publish newer, non-breaking stories BELOW this one – scroll down to check – but this will stay atop the home page, barring breaking news, for most of the rest of the night. (The meeting’s starting a few minutes late – it’s just been announced that a power outage earlier caused some “technical difficulties” – plus staffers have been working out some logistics for the broadcast media crews and their extra audio/video equipment.) “We understand that it’s a meeting of great significance for Seattle Public Schools,” Sundquist says for openers. (Here’s the agenda, by the way.)

6:15 PM: First comments regarding the superintendent. The district is “at a turning point,” teacher Noam Gundle says, while also saying – to cheers from some in the crowd – that the problems do not rest with the superintendent alone. He says the public’s confidence must be restored, and “the board must begin to do its job – holding those in power accountable.” He also says the district’s budget priorities must be fixed, and there must be more transparency. “To quote our outgoing superintendent, ‘change is hard, but it must be done,’” Gundle concludes, and the room erupts in cheers. The next speaker, north end teacher Jennifer Greenstein, says, “How could it be that while the district was crying ‘no money’ and RIFfing [laying off] teachers, you found $2 million for this program that has nothing to do with the district’s mission?” She also says, “And why should we believe there is no money now?” A few speakers later, Rickie Malone, a frequent speaker at board meetings during previous controversies, suggests it may take some school-board turnover to restore trust as well (and some in the crowd hoot “Yes! Yes!” She yields a minute to Jesse Hagopian, who says “if you think Wisconsin (is a hotbed of discontent) right now, just wait …” Next speaker, David Edelman, also takes the board to task, accusing them of “…slavishly endors(ing) every initiative of the superintendent.” (“Resign!” shouts someone in the crowd.) “Next time you hire a superintendent, hire someone who not only can clean up every mess, but … is a collaborator, with the board, and with the teachers. … You need to repair relations with the teachers. You let us down. You did not take seriously our no-confidence vote.”

6:37 PM: Eric Blumhagen, now speaker as the public-comment period continues, says he is galled that the superintendent’s expected firing is being done “without cause.” The severance payment, he says, would pay for 4 teachers. Fire her with cause, he says – (the motto) “‘Everyone accountable,’ demands nothing less.” Two speakers later, Chris Stewart, says she wants to focus on the management failure involved with the under-fire administration, not just the fraud allegations. She says that the institution where Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was trained is supposed to turn out administrators whose work improves teachers’ performance and earnings, among other things, but clearly didn’t. She also says, “I don’t necessarily see this as a crisis … we can free ourselves of an authoritarian … system.” (They are now halfway through the list of 20 scheduled public commenters.) Next is Dora Taylor, who says she has a long list of reasons that the superintendent could be fired for cause, though she also says, however it’s done, “It’s time to cut our losses and move on.” Then, she says, it’s time for the board to review the decisions that were made by the superintendent (including the controversial Teach for America program participation). “It’s time to support the programs we have, not split them apart … It’s also time for you to begin listening and responding to us … members of this community, and stop listening to the corporate and business community.” Next, former WSHS teacher Dan Dempsey, who claims it looks like a “whitewash” that the firing, without cause, is being rushed through, as he says he’s been trying to get people to pay attention to evidence of fraud for a long time.

6:57 PM: Olga Addae, president of Seattle Education Association (teachers’ union) speaking now. She says for once she sees the school board as it should be – WITHOUT the superintendent sitting up with board members, as “she is an employee … I hope you fully recognize the damage this situation has done to your ability of building trust with your community.” She says the union “is committed to authentic collaboration … (and) the responsibility we all have with each other.” Now, the first pro-superintendent speaker (7:02 pm), Don Alexander, calling the situation “a media quasi-lynching … … execution without trial … I don’t know if the superintendent has done what she is accused of, but you don’t know either.” There are hisses, and a few try to drown him out, and Sundquist says “Let him speak.” He says jocularly, “I’m going to anyway.” A few speakers later, major applause for 90-year-old Dorothy Hollingsworth, who made history as the first African-American on the school board. She says, “I didn’t come to tell you what to do … I believe you are going to do the right thing.” Two speakers later, the 20th (and therefore apparently final) speaker is Stanley Hoffman, a maintenance worker, who is talking about what he says is a half-billion-dollar maintenance backlog in the district. He says, “We need to take the money out of the administration of maintenance, and put it into the maintenance of the 94 buildings … We need to support our buildings.”

7:18 PM: Now the board moves on to action items – public comment over. Sundquist says they are moving to board comments, and explains some technicalities regarding the audit, saying they are skipping an “exit conference” and thanking any state-auditor staffers who are on hand. Sherry Carr speaks first, saying she is “outraged and disappointed” by investigation results, and that she will support both firings that are proposed – Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and financial exec Don Kennedy. Carr says while she has been involved in some difficult decisions, “this one is fairly straightforward.” She supports Susan Enfield as proposed interim superintendent, and says the board expects to announce shortly who it will hire as interim CFO, replacing Kennedy. “I’m confident we will emerge from this stronger,” she concludes. Next, Harium Martin-Morris, who says he is “deeply saddened” and that it weighs more heavily because he is the only African-American on the board and many of those involved in the scandal are African-American. Looking at the reports, he says, “I have come to one conclusion … there is an atmosphere of fear and intimidation … it was here before Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and it could continue if we don’t work together.” He says he believes she brought thoughtfulness to her work. “I have no desire to vilify anyone … I want to put this behind us. … This is now, for me, about the system – what we should do to make sure our kids get an excellent education, one they deserve … This is also about unity and the board speaking with one voice.” Next, Peter Maier says he is “angry and outraged … the real victims are the 47,000 students … and taxpayers of Seattle Public Schools,” and he apologizes “for what has happened.” Maier says steps will be taken to recover and return any wrongfully spent money, and says he will pursue “taxpayer justice.” He says the board was “deceived … and I was personally misled …I want to clarify one factual element in the report of the independent investigator.” That element: He says he did get a copy of the report that the investigation said the board didn’t get (the Sutor report). He says what the superintendent told him at the time led him to believe the problems were known and were being fixed. He says, however, they weren’t aware of the full scope of the problem, including “unauthorized lobbying in Olympia” and “personal services contracts.” He is continuing to go over details of the wrongdoing spelled out in the report, and saying that’s why he lost confidence in Goodloe-Johnson and Kennedy “and I believe an immediate change is necessary .. I do not take this step lightly or with any pleasure.” He says it’s imperative that cronyism does not continue. (He gets applause when he finishes.)

7:37 PM: Betty Patu is next. She says, “It is appalling for me as a board director to think about, how could this be, and why is it … When I came on this board, my whole emphasis was, I want to make a difference … that every student in Seattle Public Schools have an opportunity to have an equity education … excellence for all. I don’t see much ‘excellence for all’ in Seattle Public Schools. The children in the southeast community have been underserved for more than 30 years.” Patu, angrily, says she doesn’t believe the superintendent had any intention of creating equity for those underserved students, but they must have a better education so they are not out “shooting and killing themselves … It’s time for changes, to move on, for all of us to come together as a community …” She is drawing repeated bursts of applause – and wild applause at the end – for saying it is time to make a change, to make sure there is “equity education for all children.” Someone from audience whoops, “You go, Betty!” Next, Kay Smith-Blum, another of the newer board members. She says her range of emotions has included being “disheartened,” but she says changes should include systems, and codifying changes in “a way that is much more transparent … allowing us to exercise the oversight that we are charged with as directors.” She also says she is not satisfied with current cuts and wants to see the central administration “de-layer(ed)” – that draws cheers. “I will of course vote for a change in leadership.” She says over the past year she’s seen signs of a management problem in other ways beyond this particular situation. She calls for “new ways of doing business.” She says this will be a “springboard” not only for new leadership but also for a “culture change.” And Smith-Blum says that the entire community must be “strategically” involved in the district’s work, not just “those who come to this room,” and she thanks “the community at large … for your support going forward.”

7:48 PM: Next, Michael DeBell. He joins Maier in apologizing. “Your taxes were wasted on an ill-conceived program.” He says, we’ll get through this, and that the district will learn from this. DeBell also acknowledges the teachers’ no-confidence vote, and saying it was “damaging,” adding that teachers’ morale is vital, and whether they “feel included.” P.S. We will be rolling video on Sundquist’s remarks, so there’ll be a pause in our live chronicling. He also apologized, saying he’s angry as a director and as a parent. (added – video of his comments)

7:57 PM: Sundquist is done, on to the vote. They are asking district counsel to speak about “this notion of ‘for cause’,” as Sundquist put it. “The contract for the superintendent sets a very high bar for establishing cause,” says the lawyer, whose opinion is that they might not prevail if they sought to terminate for cause and were challenged. “You would face potential liability … damages … attorney’s fees … this could easily pay a multiple of (the cost) of terminating without cause.” He says they got a second opinion and that lawyer agreed. Regarding “without cause,” he says it doesn’t mean there’s no reason, but it means the employee cannot challenge it. “The advantages of terminating without cause are that you avoid the risk and liability … and it brings a certain measure of finality.” He reiterates that their recommendation is to terminate without cause.

8:06 PM: Board members are commenting again. Maier says that as the only lawyer on the board, he sees the benefits in voting to terminate without cause. Sundquist acknowledges it’s a painful decision and that “urban superintendencies” are difficult jobs. But he says Goodloe-Johnson will leave a legacy “that is worth contemplation.” He is being hissed for what he lists as that legacy; then he moves on to say she must be dismissed expeditiously. Motion passes to terminate her employment. Room cheers, and a brief round of “na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” is sung at the back, till Sundquist asks the room to come back to order (video added of entire :15 cheering/singing):

Next, the motion to terminate financial officer Don Kennedy; Sundquist says he also believes that Kennedy has some legacies. They unanimously vote to terminate his employment. No applause. Now on to appoint Susan Enfield as interim superintendent. DeBell says they want the contract to run till next June because of board elections and hiring cycles, and if the board chooses, they can launch a search next January.

8:14 PM: Betty Patu says she disagrees with hiring Enfield as interim superintendent. She disagrees with the decisions to close programs in the southeast area. She says the next superintendent needs integrity, vision, and compassion. She draws big applause. Martin-Morris, next, says he supports Enfield because she is a “quality educator.” Carr has praise for Enfield as well. Maier and Carr follow with supportive words as well. Smith-Blum says Enfield has superlative credentials and will collaborate. DeBell says they are “fortunate” to have Dr. Enfield and that there will be a “smooth transition” with her in place. “She has demonstrated flexibility, creativity, and a problem-solving skill.” Sundquist says Enfield “is very well-qualified …I believe she will chart her own course and will be bold and courageous … I have confidence she will be successful.” Her appointment passes 6-1. “We’ll be watching!” someone yells. Enfield speaks now.

8:30 PM: Enfield’s speech is over; highlights in a moment (we were rolling video). The board is taking a half-hour break before resuming the meeting. Enfield has been serving as the district’s Chief Academic Officer. From the printout of her speech, distributed by district staff immediately after she finished speaking (we’ll post the video when back at HQ), these excerpts:

This is a very difficult time for us all. I know there are some 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 under way 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. …

(updated) Here’s our video of her entire speech (picked up a few seconds in):

That’s the end of this particular agenda item, so we’re on our way back to the peninsula. Final note, the agreement for Dr. Enfield to become interim superintendent includes a salary of $225,000 – about $40,000 less than Goodloe-Johnson was making.

ADDED 6:19 PM: For posterity – here’s the Seattle Channel embed of the entire board meeting:

40 Comments

  1. Thanks for liveblogging this. It’s invaluable.

    Comment by Geoff Miller — 6:26 pm March 2, 2011 #

  2. Thank you for these updates. As someone who is home sick, has DirecTV (thus, no educational programming channel), and can’t believe that the Seattle Channel isn’t live streaming the most important school board meeting in recent history— I thank you IMMENSELY.

    Comment by Clarabell — 6:36 pm March 2, 2011 #

  3. This is invaluable information! Thanks for the hard work. It’s almost like being there.

    Comment by Lionel A — 6:51 pm March 2, 2011 #

  4. oust her! she is totally worthless….and what was this program she started? as far as i can understand, it literally has nothing to do with the school districts mission. she was aware of the money laundering, covered it up, and is being let go with a 1/4 million dollar severance pay? she needs to be accountable! and let go with nothing! give that money to the schools that need it!!

    Comment by alkigirl1 — 6:55 pm March 2, 2011 #

  5. Thanks for the coverage. I believe that the teachers and other school employees in Seattle are the real experts who have to work in the trenches every day. It is very popular across the country right now to attack teachers and other public workers. Legislators in Ohio and Wisconsin are trying to blame the entire economic mess on those “greedy” teachers, firefighters, police. I am thankful that Seattle Public Schools is going to get the chance to hire a leader who will collaborate with the teachers who do the work of educating students every day as well as with families and other stakeholders in our communities. We all agree that we want what is best for the students in this city. It is time to move on and do whatever we must do (including raising taxes) to properly fund schools and to make sure those who are running them are accountable for how the money is spent. I appreciate teachers like Noam Gundle and Jennifer for reminding the community that Seattle teachers took a vote of no confidence months ago.

    Comment by Eddie Westerman — 7:00 pm March 2, 2011 #

  6. Thank you, please keep it going…this is amazing to find this all online and I appreciate being able to follow it this way.

    Comment by slava — 7:25 pm March 2, 2011 #

  7. The leaders should be at the school level: a good principal, for example. The teachers–each in her/his individual classroom–is the leader. The education is at each site, each site being a special community.
    And, thank you so, WSB! Amazing coverage!
    Hire a finance guru; let the teachers and principals reign on!

    Comment by angelescrest — 7:29 pm March 2, 2011 #

  8. Wow, riveting stuff to watch live. This school district is rotten at the core (the school board. not the students and teachers).

    Comment by Bob Loblaw — 7:31 pm March 2, 2011 #

  9. This is great coverage – and apparently the only real time coverage of this meeting by local media. Thank you!

    Comment by UWGradObserver — 7:32 pm March 2, 2011 #

  10. King 5 is streaming live
    http://www.king5.com/live-stream/pop-up-no-ads/116475908.html

    Comment by Alison — 7:36 pm March 2, 2011 #

  11. wholeheartedly agreed Bob Loblaw.
    Hold the mirror up to the gutless Board.
    Hold them accountable for not listening to the vote of no confidence, for not questioning the “small business program” purpose and not acting earlier.

    They are spinning the attention away from their own lack of accountability. Hold the mirror up to the Board. The Board needs to go. They were accomplices, for God’s sake.

    Comment by westseattledood — 7:45 pm March 2, 2011 #

  12. Great coverage.

    How about “Ding Dong the witch is gone, the wicked witch is gone” for a song?

    MGJ and Kennedy are failures.

    Closures = FAIL
    Student Assignment plan = FAIL
    Math achievement = FAIL
    Community engagement = FAIL
    Accountability = FAIL
    Financial Stewardship = FAIL

    FAIL FAIL FAIL

    Comment by wsparent — 8:21 pm March 2, 2011 #

  13. WSP, I was really expecting someone to bring up the song you suggest. But nothing other than the “na na hey hey” song (whose formal title escapes me) has emerged.

    Comment by WSB — 8:36 pm March 2, 2011 #

  14. Awesome coverage TR!

    Comment by westseattledood — 8:39 pm March 2, 2011 #

  15. Thank you for all the hard work it takes to bring this to those of us who couldn’t go to the meeting. You guys are a priceless resource. Thanks!

    Comment by Jordan Olson — 8:39 pm March 2, 2011 #

  16. Thank you for the great coverage. I’m expecting better listening from the board going forward!

    Comment by Momof3 — 8:47 pm March 2, 2011 #

  17. I was watching on cable channel 26, but you are SO good, TR!
    Thanks,
    Mz. C
    PS. Will you be in the Tacoma Dome tomorrow night?

    Comment by Mz. C — 8:52 pm March 2, 2011 #

  18. Yes, Mz. C we will make the trip south and we’ll run out updates live on Twitter.

    Comment by Patrick Sand — 9:08 pm March 2, 2011 #

  19. Good for the ousting. Now the school board does have some explaining to do about their lack of control/oversight around the fraudulent activity leading up to this firing. Also, about their lack of support early on with the Teacher’s “no confidence” vote. Shame on the school board in many ways. Seattle schools are hurting and no wonder. The teachers and students and families all suffer greatly from the incompetence of some. I know they all aren’t incompetent, but overall, the whole Seattle school system upper echelon seems very ill fit, as it goes currently, to serve the citizens of Seattle and the children in particular. No reason the Seattle Public Schools can’t be best in the US… we need new leadership.

    Comment by doggydodo — 9:15 pm March 2, 2011 #

  20. Were the stolen funds taken from our tax dollars? I certainly have no problem if our taxes go to the right place: helping children and teachers. But, with the huge increase in our property taxes, thanks to the school levies always passing, I want to be sure my hard-earned money isn’t being misappropriated by scum. And that the school district isn’t wasting our money.

    Comment by Sonoma — 9:16 pm March 2, 2011 #

  21. I second westseattledood, as a parent of 2 in the district this has gone on too long.

    Comment by Cclarue — 9:22 pm March 2, 2011 #

  22. It’s hard to have confidence in the new boss as I have no confidence in this board. I sure hope I’m wrong.

    Comment by Momof3 — 10:55 pm March 2, 2011 #

  23. Awesome coverage – holy cow! I sit here grading papers, seeing what the mighty board does with MGJ, realizing that when my 4 month old goes to Kindergarten, only then will I have have made her severance. Hey – You know what would be nice? This district could get a sup who honors kids and their teachers. I’m not suggesting any one concrete plan or program, just a frame of mind. How novel. Gotta go, as I have more papers to grade…….

    Comment by Awesome Teacher — 11:04 pm March 2, 2011 #

  24. I’ve been unhappy with the Supt. almost since she came to the job–I’ve not liked her approach at all, and I’m very glad she’s going.

    But I’m also a little embarrassed by the behavior of the crowd. Had my children behaved this way in public, I’d have removed them from the room.

    Comment by J — 11:53 pm March 2, 2011 #

  25. Thanks WSB for continuing to be real journalists. Came home late from a meeting worried that I’d missed all the info, then realized that *of course* WSB would have coverage! You’re the best.

    As for the School District… Suggest reading:
    http://crosscut.com/blog/crosscut/20140/Open-letter-to-the-Seattle-School-Board/

    I’ll post here what I’ve posted there:

    There are two subjects being discussed in this line of posts. One is about the operations of the district (the foundation of the building, to use a metaphor) and the other is the posts and beams (teachers and curriculum). I agree we have some serious post and beam problems. And we definitely need to discuss the ground beneath the building (family and community). If you’re a post-and- beam person, focus on that. If you’re an environmental person, focus on that. THIS dialog needs to be about the cracked foundation that is the current school district infrastructure. It is undermining and destroying posts and beams left and right. We need to have a serious discussion about THAT. A good foundation can be laid atop any type of environment and to withstand any type of weather. But if the foundation’s insufficient to support the structure or incorrectly put in place, nothing can save the structure from constant fissures and destruction.

    For too long we’ve plastered over the cracks with the latest theory of superintending: we need private sector folks, we need professional educators, we need the military. Long term, none of those have worked. There’s a crack in the foundation. Mr. Brewster’s letter laid out a cogent process for finding the cracks and fixing them. I would only make two additions to his proposed task force: a retired, successful, superintendent (Tom Murphy or Michael Silver come to mind) and a non-pro “real” person who actually understands the working of the District (not the classroom), like Estella Ortega or Mary Bass.

    Comment by vannamocha — 1:02 am March 3, 2011 #

  26. Embarrassed “J”.

    I would normally agree with you about crowd behavior, but I have to ask if you have been engaged the last several years?

    The global “we” have tried civil discourse, we’ve tried logic, we’ve tried rule of law appeals, we’ve tried one on one and group lobbying, we’ve given calm, reasoned testimony, held orderly protests, we’ve attended meetings and asked polite questions, publicly stating our point, our reasoning, and our recommendations and support.

    What have we gotten in return? We have been routinely lied to, ignored, disrespected, overruled, and downtrodden. Our children are stuck in overcrowded conditions in 3rd world portables with lousy materials. Our teachers practically spat upon.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, but in this case the point needed to be made. It took us several years to get rid of our evil dictator, but at least it didn’t involve any rioting or looting.

    Comment by wsparent — 7:14 am March 3, 2011 #

  27. MGJ once bragged that she’s a product of the public school system. Her district must have been run by someone like her at the time.

    Comment by mitch — 8:20 am March 3, 2011 #

  28. Wow. 2 fired employees get ousted then get
    severance pay “for doing a bad job”"?
    what kind of a message does this send??
    Imagine what the district could do with that $390,000 for the schools.
    the Governor needs to step in here and over ride
    this severance pay issue.

    Comment by J Endsley — 8:44 am March 3, 2011 #

  29. I do agree with all wsparent says about the way people who’ve tried hard to help turn this district around have been treated. I find reason for private exultation over the decision; I’m still disappointed that the crowd was not able to exhibit more mature public behavior.

    Comment by J — 9:10 am March 3, 2011 #

  30. Embarrassed J, I feel the same way as you. Completely immature and inappropriate.

    Comment by cmc — 9:24 am March 3, 2011 #

  31. WSB, thank you for your coverage and commitment, your reporting is incredible.

    Comment by Fiona @ SPElem — 9:41 am March 3, 2011 #

  32. Looks like they are going to receive the severance pay because they are being fired “without cause,” but why should they be fired if there is no cause? There certainly is cause, but they are being fired without cause because of prohibitively high legal costs associated with proving the cause.

    I would like to see this reasoning illuminated better but maybe we wash our hands at this point and move on. As wsparent above stated, we have been long-time trying to get MGJ to listen/change/get out, via numerous and various channels and methods, to little effect.

    Her harmful policies have caused my family (esp. school-age daughter) undeserved heartache, suffering, and hardship.

    Comment by bolo — 10:51 am March 3, 2011 #

  33. I’m sorry I couldn’t transcribe everything the lawyer said last night – and that still isn’t the full gist of it – but as he explained, “without cause” doesn’t mean “no cause.” All very legal and having to do with contract language and so forth that dates back to the original employment agreement. As someone who once supervised a fairly large staff, it reminds me of the importance of the fine print … as well as the importance of accurate performance reviews … it has been assessed by some as something like this: giving somebody an OK performance review and thinking you’ll get to the not-so-OK stuff some time in the future may come back to bite you if the not-so-OK stuff suddenly explodes …

    Comment by WSB — 10:54 am March 3, 2011 #

  34. Small clarification about Olga’s point. Certainly the superintendent as secretary of the board belongs up with the board during meetings. But she doesn’t belong in the middle, front and center. I had forgotten that the superintendent used to sit on the side. I turned to Chris Jackins sitting next to me and he confirmed that yes, the Super used to sit on the side, not in the center. He thinks it was during Maria’s tenure that the seating arrangement changed.

    Comment by Dorothy — 12:10 pm March 3, 2011 #

  35. I don’t understand how the School Superintendent is making over $200,000 a year!!!!! Where is the outrage about this outrageous salary?

    Comment by Mary — 2:12 pm March 3, 2011 #

  36. Lawyer here.

    “Cause” is usually defined to mean something more specific than “doing a bad job”. For example…

    “Dereliction in the performance of duties, the breach of any material contractual obligation owed to the Company or its affiliates, or the engaging by Executive in willful misconduct which is injurious to the Company or an affiliated entity; or If Executive is convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to (i) any misdemeanor having an adverse impact on the Company or its affilities, and relating to the affairs of the Company, its customers, suppliers, employees, lenders, landlords, or others having professional or business relations with the Company, or otherwise in respect of Executive’s professional responsibilities, or (ii) any felony or other crime involving moral turpitude or immoral conduct.”

    In the current scandal it is by no means clear that MGJ actually knew of the fraud or was complicit in it. She *should* have known, but that’s probably not “cause”. My guess is the Board fired her, not just for this, but because she generally hasn’t done a good job. And again, that’s not “cause”.

    Comment by CCW — 3:54 pm March 3, 2011 #

  37. $200k or more doesn’t strike me as that much given the level of responsibility and hours required of a school superintendent in a city the size of Seattle. It’s an important job!

    People who run businesses with that big of a budget and that many employees make a lot more. Plus you need to make the salary attractive in order to get the best people.

    In fact if they had to pay double that in order to get the desired results I’d be all for it- as long as they get the job done.

    Comment by maplesyrup — 5:25 pm March 3, 2011 #

  38. It’s my understanding that Seattle School Board members are paid less than $5k per year. And that most of them put in upwards of 40hrs/week on board-related activities. So they are, essentially, volunteers.

    You can call them unqualified, incapable, insensitive, out-of-touch. I have a hard time with “rotten” and “gutless”.

    Comment by DownTheStreet — 10:14 pm March 3, 2011 #

  39. As a former resident of W. Seattle/WA State, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to watch this coverage. My child attended Seattle Public Schools for one year and I had reason to correspond by email with Steve Sundquist during that time also. My friends who are still in WA State have either taken their children out of Seattle Public schools and enrolled them in private schools, or are buying homes in a different district, to avoid having their children in the schools there. I agree with commenters; doggydodo, westseattledood, BobLoblaw and wsparent’s response to “J”. The Seattle School Board needs to be changed, Steve Sundquist needs to go too. Good Luck parents, teachers, counselors and students.

    Comment by L.M Bailey — 3:35 pm March 4, 2011 #

  40. great coverage. thanks WSB.

    Comment by laura — 6:42 pm March 4, 2011 #

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