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Seattle School District Superintendent Willfully Ignored Warning Signs of Fraud in Minority Program

February 28, 2011

L-R Fred Stephens, Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Silas Potter

Seattle Public Schools needs a new Superintendent.

In 2007 the Board hired Maria Goodloe-Johnson for the job after a very public, very humiliating circus known as school closures. There was also fiscal mismanagement to the tune of $35 million dollars.

The school board unanimously chose Goodloe-Johnson to clean up the district and get finances in order.

From day 1, she was a controversial leader. Folks said she had a “my way or the highway” leadership style.

Rumors of fall outs between her and board members came early and often. But in public at least, the board supported her. They were loath to appear divided in the public eye.  Through every controversy they appeared united and in control.

Last week that mirage was shattered after the release of a scathing report by the state auditor’s office which focused on the district’s Regional Small Business Development Program. It used capital funds to qualify minority and women owned businesses to bid on district contracts.

As the district invested less and less money into the program, its director, Silas Potter, started his own business with a name identical to the school districts program. He had his very own Regional Small Business Development Program.

Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson was aware of what was going on and the concerns about Silas and the use of funding.  There was also a report done a few years ago that pointed out problems and concerns over Potter and his use of district funds.

That report was by all accounts, glossed over and minimized by Superintendent, who directed district staff not to give hard copies to board members. Because of that, Potter went unchecked. More district money was lost.

Maria Goodloe-Johnson was brought to Seattle in 2007 to take control. She was considered the best candidate for the job. Now she’s smack in the middle of a financial scandal.

The president of the school board is out in the media expressing his outrage and his loss of faith in the leadership.   It’s pretty clear he wants her gone. He is not alone. Board members are angry. They feel betrayed.

Their options are to either buy out her contract or fire her. They will make their decision before the end of the week.

It’s time for new leadership at Seattle Public Schools. But if Goodloe-Johnson was the best candidate just 3 years ago, who on earth is the best candidate to replace her?

I guess we’re left waiting for Superman.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Caldwell permalink
    February 28, 2011 11:41 am

    Well, first off, she wasn’t the right person for the job initially; didn’t she have some serious criticisms from her previous gig?

    This is what happens when you have quasi-politicians running the show and proof that the best leaders are sometimes on the frontlines. I’m not that familiar with the SPS leadership, but what about the district leaders and even principals? Who better to know the plight of the community and its children? The bean counting aspect can be taught (hell, a good principal uses quickbooks anyway!), get someone in there who’s willing to grind for the kids knowing what the current and future issues are. Seems obvious to me.

  2. JvA permalink
    February 28, 2011 7:46 pm

    The head of Baltimore schools sounds like he might be the kind of guy the Board should try and poach. He takes money away from central administration in favor of individual schools. He supports the principals, gives them control over their budgets, and expects results. And gets them.

    http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2011/01/breath-of-fresh-air-on-ed-reform.html

  3. Emeraldkity permalink
    March 1, 2011 2:48 pm

    She was considered the best candidate for the job.

    If I remember correctly- out of three final candidates- the other two bowed out. Instead of doing a new search, the board opted to go with MG-J.

  4. Charlie Mas permalink
    March 1, 2011 8:19 pm

    We don’t need another superstar superintendent found in a national search. Enough of that crap.

    We just need an honest, competent manager and administrator who will reduce the central office to its essential functions, fire the people who need to be fired, set and maintain performance expectations for the central office staff, institute internal controls, make the required reports to the Board, and deliver a transparent budget document.

    Not only don’t we need an educator, I find it hard to believe that anyone who came up through the ranks in public K-12 education has any of the necessary skills.

  5. March 1, 2011 8:56 pm

    I don’t think we’ve ever had a “superstar” Super. It’s a myth. And an unhealthy one at that.

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