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October November 2007

News from all over.

Linda Watson has stepped in as interim superintendent of Little Rock (AK) School District, succeeding Roy Brooks, who left the office in September after a $635,000 district buyout of his contract. Watson’s own 10-month agreement with the district includes a salary of $168,000. Watson is being investigated on allegations of state ethics law violations. The allegations stem from payments made to Watson for work in a district-related program in addition to her regular district salary.

Mercer Island (WA) School District Superintendent Cyndy Simms resigned and moved to Walnut Valley Unified School District in southern California. Before Simms started at Mercer Island in 2003, the district had gone through five superintendents since 1990. Walnut Valley Unified’s 15,000-student enrollment is about three times larger than Mercer Island’s.

Former Clayton County (GA) Superintendent Barbara Pulliam, who resigned abruptly a week before her scheduled performance review in July, is now a finalist for Mobile County superintendent in Alabama. Pulliam cited undisclosed personal reasons as the basis for her departure. Her annual salary was approximately $195,000, and her severance package includes nine months’ pay. Pulliam recently caught flak for a deal during her tenure in which the school system paid $2 million more than its own appraisal for 155 acres for a school complex.

Former Dearborn (MI) Superintendent Tom McLennan and his eponymous consulting firm have been hired to lead the search for a replacement for the current superintendent, John Artis, who will retire in June 2008. McLennan said that while he knows most of the superintendents in the state quite well, he will also look for candidates outside Michigan.

Paramus (NJ) Superintendent Janice Dime resigned last August after not immediately informing parents about pesticide-laden soil at a district school. Dime, along with several other administrators, learned of massive amounts of pesticide in West Brook Middle School’s soil as early as January, but four months went by before parents were told. Dime reached an agreement with the Board of Ed to resign with one year’s salary and health benefits, a package that will cost the district more than $222,000—and that’s not counting pesticide cleanup costs.

Aletha Ramseur, who was paralyzed in 1999 due to spinal stenosis, was appointed to serve on the Brandy­wine (DE) School Board. Ramseur, 63, has nearly 25 years of education experience teaching science and has been an adjunct professor at Delaware State University and the University of Delaware. Ramseur said she plans to seek out underserved residents in the district, particularly parents of students with disabilities, and pursuade them to actively participate in education.
 
Michele Lawrence, Berkeley (CA) Unified School District’s first Latina superintendent, announced her retirement, which will take effect on February 1, 2008.  Lawrence spent most of her tenure trying to balance the district’s staggering budget deficit. She is widely credited with achieving a stable budget and stronger academic programs as well as increased test scores.

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