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August's Movers and Shakers

August , 2006

Bonnie Copeland, chief executive officer of Baltimore City Schools, stepped down last month after spending three years tending to the district’s $58 million deficit. She leaves BCS without any remaining shortfall, but the district is still shrouded in controversy. BCS is fighting a state takeover of four of its inner-city high schools, as well as battling state education officials over providing services for special education students.  Just last spring, Eric Letsinger, the chief operating officer, was fired for allegedly trying to use the district’s money to take city officials fishing.

As this school year starts, 60 percent of the superintendents joining 28 districts in Oakland County, Michigan, will either be new or have fewer than three years on the job. Five of the county’s school chiefs have retired: Robert O’Brien, following eight years at Huron Valley Schools; James McCann, after 20 years in the Lamphere Schools in Madison Heights; James Bird, after 16 years in Avondale School District in Auburn Hills; James Geisler, after 18 years in Walled Lake Consolidated Schools; and Thomas Tattan, after four years in Waterford School District.

Four school leaders are also departing Monmouth-Roseville, Illinois, leaving the district with half of the administrators the Board of Education put in place to lead the newly consolidated district. Superintendent Don Daily is retiring after 30 years. Richard Kucharz and Doug O’Riley, both high school principals, and Eric Matthews, assistant principal and athletic director, are all leaving the district for positions at other schools. The board did not comment on whether all the departures in one year is more than a coincidence.

Fontana (CA) Unified School District finds itself again without a superintendent, following the departure of Charles Milligan in June to lead the Tacoma (WA) School District. Milligan was with the district for less than two years. Milligan’s predecessor, Debra Bradley, quit after only one year and went on to sue the school board for causing her emotional distress. Fontana intended to fill the position in-house but is now considering outside candidates. By casting a wider net, the district hopes to find the best person for the job, one who is also willing to commit to the long term.
The district is expected to pay the new chief $180,000 a year.

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