Q. Why are you resigning?
A. Look, I thought we were moving to improve this school system, recognizing and understanding that we have not solved all of the problems. But now I think we're not doing that because things have gotten to the point where some board members, I felt, were very much concerned about what they considered good publicity that the superintendent receives from the media -- more concerned about that then what was going on in the schools.
Kinlow [Eugene Kinlow, board member at-large] told me, "Hey, you know, you are getting all the credit for all the things we have done." I said, "What have you done? Nothing; that's what you've done."
Q. You have said that the school board interferes in your day-to-day handling of the public schools. How so?
A. I've been sitting here and had Frank Shaffer-Corona [board member at-large] call me up and tell me to hire somebody. Yes, I've had some of that. Most of it comes on principals. They'll call me up and tell me they want me to hire so-and-so. Sometimes they'll call me up and ask me to hire a friend of theirs for some job. That's happened. I haven't had a whole lot of that, but it happens. I tell them to go to hell, and when they get six votes they cant take this job.
Q. What other kinds of interference do you have from the board? How much of your workday is taken up in dealing with them?
A. A great deal. I'd say most of my time is taken up now with dealing with them. Sometimes it is worse than others. We've been flooded lately with memos from the board about this kind of information and that kind of information. I sent Alaire Rieffel [Ward 2] a letter not too long ago telling her that some information she wanted took my resource department 108 hours to prepare. But is is not only the constant requests for information. It's things like John Warren sending out memos saying he wants his picture hung in all schools in his ward. Man [laughter], I can't believe it. Last year when he was running for office, he told me to get him the names and addresses of all the students in his ward so he could create a mailing list for his campaign. I wouldn't do it. That is confidential information meant for school use, not for political use.
Q. The school board says you lack class in resigning with only two weeks' notice.
A. Now that I would have to admit. I did give them short notice. But if I gave them a month, they wouldn't have got it together to get a new superintendent.But I decided at the last minute.
And they just recently did some things like the legislation they now have pending that all GS12 and above positions have to come before them and that all contracts $5,000 and above have to come to them for ratification. I'm sitting here dealing with hundreds of contracts, and most of them over $5,000. I can't run this system when my hands are tied like that.
The other thing is, if they don't trust the superintendent to deal with things like that, then they need to get someone they trust. And that's all I've said to them.
Q. Are you thinking about running for the school board?
A. School board? I really haven't thought about that at this point.
Q. Is it a possibility?
A. Well, yes, but it's not likely.
Q. Why? Because you don't like politics?
A. Well, I have not been. . . If I were a good politican, I would not be in the fix I'm in now.
Q. What could make you change your decision to resign? Would it make any difference if some of the school board members resigned?
A. Look, that would be nice, but you know that's not going to happen. At this point, I've made my mind to go.
Q. What could the school board give you to make you stay? What if they gave you carte blanche to do anything you want in the school system? Would that be the kind of trust that you would want?
A. I don't want that. And I don't think anybody should have that. I think the superintendent should report to the board. I'm not upset about the board's authority to monitor the system. I'm just saying I think they are into the day-to-day operations so deeply that I don't think I can run the system properly. And at the same time, they're saying I'm going to be held responsible for the system while they've got their hand in it pullin every this and that way. That's the situation with which I'm faced, and I just don't think I can run the school system with things like that. Listen, now, how is the board going to come and tell the superintendent he has to find eight vehicles and put them in the security department when I don't think that's necessary? That is day-to-day operations.
Q. What have you done as superintendent?
A. I've done a million things. The first thing is that for the first time we have our management side in order. We have strengthened the high school program. We've got a CBC [competency based curriculum] in place for the first time in the history of this school system. When I came in this school system in 1956, after two years of satisfactory services our teachers were never evaluated again. Now all of our teachers are evaluated twice a year, regardless of time and service in the system.
Q. So why doesn't the board appreciate what you've done?
A. The board wants, what should I say, the board wants an Uncle Tom superintendent, that's what it is. They want you to bow and scrape before them. I don't intend to bow and scrape before them. I'm here to do a job; I'm concerned about 100,000 kids. We have done so much, so much.
Q. How could the board be improved by the public? Should the board be elected or appointed?
A. I think the elected board is all right. There are just some nasty people on this school board. The board has no right to abuse my people, no right to talk to them like they are dogs, no right to run around and harass principals in the schools. John Warren was out to Eastern last week. He wants to have an assembly with the kids -- just stop classes. I said tell him he can't do it. I think the citizens ought to monitor more what is going on. They elect them and then they forget about them. They don't come to the meetings. They don't see how they behave.
Let me say another thing. I have kind of kept quiet. I didn't want another shoot-out, another situation where the superintendent and the board are in another big fight like we've had in the past.So I just tried to stay quiet, keep myself cooled down. But it's gotten to the point now where it is not possible for me, for the administration, to do what we have to for the young people in the schools because of the interference. And for the board members to come out in the papers and say I'm a mediocre superintendent. I know what I am. I've never passed myself off as any super-giant.