Chicago Taps Kimbrough for School Superintendent

By Peter West — October 25, 1989 2 min read

Ted D. Kimbrough, a veteran administrator who weathered several voter-recall attempts in his efforts to weed out corruption as the superintendent of an urban district in California, has been named to head the Chicago Public Schools.

The appointment of the 54-year-old Chicago native to the superintendency of the nation’s third-largest school system ends a yearlong search for a permanent head to succeed Manford Byrd Jr.

Mr. Kimbrough will take the reins of the 410,000-student district at a time when much of the decisionmaking power in the troubled district is being transferred to the hands of 540 local school councils predominantly made up of parent representatives. (See Education Week, Oct. 18, 1989.)

He said his major task will be to work with the local school councils and the board in setting educational priorities.

“And once those priorities have been clearly established,” Mr. Kimbrough said in a statement released last week, “it’s the responsibility of the superintendent and the staff to achieve the desired results.’'

Mr. Kimbrough, who last year was named California’s “superintendent of the year” by the American Association of School Administrators, was chosen over three other finalists.

He was selected, a spokesman for the Chicago district said, because of his “no-nonsense management approach” to running the 26,500-student Compton Unified School District.

Mr. Kimbrough was credited during his seven-year tenure in Compton with pulling the district through a scandal over “fixed” test scores as well as several allegations of impropriety, including charges of nepotism among school employees.

Chicago officials also praised Mr. Kimbrough--who had worked as a senior administrator and lobbyist for the Los Angeles Unified School District before moving to Compton--for his “bridge building” among Asian, Hispanic, and black communities in Compton and for his efforts to rid the district of gang activity.

Election Challenges

A spokesman for the Compton district said the school board voted last week to approve a request from Mr. Kimbrough to be released from his contract, which was due to expire in 1991.

Mr. Kimbrough, who is to begin work in Chicago in January, will be paid $175,000 a year, $75,000 more than Mr. Byrd earned.

In a related development, officials reported last week that approximately 80 challenges had been filed in the wake of last week’s school-council elections.

“Basically, what’s been of concern has been the possibility of ineligible voters,” said Kenneth Moses, a spokesman for the Chicago district.

“There also have been charges of electioneering and desires for recounts,” he added, but there was no breakdown of the how many of each type of challenge had been filed.

He said he expected that “approximately 90 percent of those challenges will be able to be resolved within a week’s time.”

A version of this article appeared in the October 25, 1989 edition of Education Week as Chicago Taps Kimbrough for School Superintendent