Associate Superintendent James T Guines was named acting superintendent of the Washington school system yesterday after Vincent Reed, who resigned, spurned a last-minute request by the city's Board of Education to stay on the job.
Guines, 48, who has been in charge of developing the school system's competency-based curriculum, is expected to remain in the post until July 1. Board members said that they hope to name a permanent superintendent by that date and that Guines told them he was not interested in the position.
"I am confident that Dr. Guines will guide us well through these troubled times," board member Frank Smith Jr. declared after the seven board members present at an early evening meeting unanimously approved the appointment.
"Dr. Guines was at the very heart of the programs that Dr. Reed has begun to implement. I am sure we will not waver, and we will not falter through this period," Smith said.
Guines has been associate superintendent for instruction of Washington public schools since 1970 when he came here from Richmond.
"There's no serious need to change any of Superintendent Reed's directions," he said last night in a telephone interview from Ocala, Fla., where he is spending Christmas vacation. "I think they're all good, solid directions that I've been party to developing . . . . There's a lot of work to be done. But I do not anticipate any disruption at all."
Guines said the board members offerred him the acting superintendent's job in a telephone conference call in late afternoon. He said he plans to meet with them soon after flying home to Washington on Friday and said he would make an effort to "deescalate all this [conflict between the superintendent and the board]."
"We've got to put all that behind us and out of the way," Guines declared. "I have a tremendous sense of urgency that we get back to the issues of educating our children. . . . I think educationally, this system is just on the brink of making a tremendous breakthrough."
Several hours before naming Guines to the post, the board adopted a resolution urging Reed to stay until after the current school year. The board's resolution suggested that Reed go through with his retirement scheduled today but then return as acting superintendent. The board said Reed could do this as a "reemployed annuitant" without losing the pension benefits under a special early-out retirement plan that expires today.
However, after considering the proposal for several hours, Reed turned it down. He explained that his reasons for leaving the school system were "far deeper" than taking advantage of the early-out retirement.
"I was concerned that the board's continuing and growing day-to-day interference in the school system made it impossible for me to do what I had to for the children of this city," Reed said. "I heard nothing that the board members I vigorously complained about have changed their minds in that direction. And I saw no reason to change my mind."
In the interview, Guines said he expected to be able to work smoothly with the school board.
"I feel I have their respect as an educator," he said. "I will give them the respect they are due as board members. . . . I don't know of a single person on the board that I have not been able to work well witth in the past." p
Board president R. Calvin Lockridge said the board also offered the acting superintendent's post to Reed's top duty, Vice Superintendent Elizabeth C. Yancey. But he said Yancey told the Board that she also plans to retire today to take advantage of the early-out provisions.
Lockridge said Yancey told him that she would be willing to serve as acting superintendent only as "reemployed annuitant." But he said the board decided that it would be a bad precedent to ask someone to come back from retirement to fill a job more important than the one that he or she held while regularly employed.
Lockridge called Guines "one of the most creative people we have left in the system."
"Dr. Reed got the credit," Lockridge added, "[but] Guines is the innovator."
Although it is possible that the board eventually might turn to Guines as the permanent superintendent, Lockridge said he thinks Washington schools "need new blood" from outside the system and that he would appoint a board committee soon to conduct a nationwide search for a new superintendent. a
Reed had strongly recommended that Yancey be his replacement. But Lockridge said that, in selecting Guines, the board was making it clear that there would be continuity in the school system.
"We told him that we wanted somebody who was not trying to become the permanent superintendent," Lockridge said. "But if he does a good job, the board could draft him. We are going to make a search for a new superintendent."
Guines was brought to Washington by former superintendent Hugh J. Scott in November, 1970. He held high-level jobs under both Scott and superintendent Barbara Sizemore, Reed's immediate predecessor, and is one of the few top administrators in theschool system who has tenure in his job and will not automatically lose it when Reed leaves office.
Guines was born and educated in Chattanooga, Tenn. He has bachelor's degree from Alabama A&M in Huntsville and both a master's and a doctorate degree in education from the University of Tennessee.
He has spent four years teaching third and fifth grades in Chattanooga and has also been an education professor at Alabama A&M, Alabama State and St. Augustine's College in North Carolina. Just before coming to Washington, he spent five years in the Richmond school system, first as administrative assistant to the superintendent and then as assistant superintendent for instruction.
A colorful, outspoken man, Guines has a reputation among other Washington school officials as primarily an educational theorist and planner who was not personally close to Reed, although the two men worked together in developing the new curriculum.
In his current job as associate superintendent for instruction, Guines has been earning $51,000 a year. The superintendent's salary currently is $55,400.
By retiring today, Reed, 52, is eligible for retirement benefits equal to almost half his salary. But after today, he would not have been eligible for a pension until he turns 55 on March 1, 1983. Reed's present contract as superintendent expires a year earlier than that.
Reed announced his retirement on Dec. 18, and accompanied the announcement with a blistering attack on the schol board. He accused Lockridge and three other members of frequently obstructing him and interfering with the day-to-day operations of the school system. But he said the personal antagonism and feuding among most of the board members also made his job more difficult.