Arlington School Superintendent Charles E. Nunley, whose clashes with the School Board, teachers and community groups during the past three years have undermined his support, announced yesterday that he is resigning, effective June 30.
The 55-year-old Nunley had weathered attempts by some School Board members to fire him in 1983 and a vote of no confidence by county teachers this year.
He said in a memo to the board that was released yesterday: "After serving as a superintendent of schools in county, city and village school districts for 26 years, I have come to a decision that at the end of the current school year I will retire from the school superintendency."
He said in an interview last night he has no firm plans, adding: "Things have always seemed to come to me at the right time, and I'm confident they will again." He said he had decided that "this would be my last year of superintendency. I decided it was time for a change."
The friction between Nunley and various School Board members was apparent three years ago shortly after members of the board -- then controlled by Republicans -- brought him to Arlington from the Lorain, Ohio, school system, where his contract was not renewed.
Nunley noted in his memo that under Virginia law, all superintendents must be given their appointments for the next school year by March 1. He said he was acting to give the board -- now controlled by Democrats -- time to begin the selection process for his successor.
School officials and others in Arlington have said privately for months that it was highly unlikely that Nunley would be reappointed to the $60,797-a-year post in which he oversees the operation of the county's 14,500-pupil school system.
School Board Chairman Gail H. Nuckols and members Dorothy H. Stambaugh and Margaret A. Bocek declined to comment yesterday on that possibility. The board's other two members, Simone J. Pace and Frank K. Wilson, could not be reached for comment.
School Board meetings became particularly strained in early 1983, with members openly criticizing Nunley and Nunley returning the barbs. Some members of the board began seeking legal advice on ways to fire him. But they backed off, school officials said, when one of the five board members refused to join and make the potential ouster unanimous.
Nunley's style was said by school officials and community members to be out of sync with the sophisticated, highly educated populace in Arlington. Many county residents complained about an increasing inability to get information, particularly dealing with budgetary decisions.
When Democrats assumed County Board control in 1983 and their appointees took control of the School Board in July, many school officials -- among them several teachers who worked in the Democratic campaigns -- predicted that Nunley would not be reappointed.
The Arlington Education Association, which represents most of the county's 900 teachers, has had a running battle with him over salary increases and proposed revisions in teacher evaluation and disciplinary procedures. It culminated in June when the association's delegate assembly approved a vote of no confidence in Nunley's ability to manage the school system and treat its employes fairly.
Marjorie S. McCreery, the association's executive director, called Nunley's resignation "a wise move on his part."
Despite his controversies, Nunley won commendations from many in the business community for inaugurating an "adopt-a-school" program last year and for implementing School Board policies that have led to tightened academic standards.
"Dr. Nunley and the School Board and the community have worked well together in many areas in strengthening our schools," board member Bocek said yesterday.
"He has seen us through some very difficult times, and certainly he'll leave his mark on the community," said board Chairman Nuckols. She added that she expects that the board will begin soon to solicit public comment on criteria for a new superintendent.