Guest post by Jaclyn Zubrzycki @jzubrzycki
Readers of this blog may be interested to learn that Tony Tata, the former U.S. Army brigadier (and novelist) who has been the superintendent of the Wake County, North Carolina school district since January 2011, was removed from office by the district’s school board last week.
The district’s assistant superintendent in charge of human resources, Stephen Gainey, will be acting superintendent for up to 60 days as the board searches for a full-time replacement. In an email to Education Week, Gainey emphasized that continuity for the district’s students will be a focus. “Everything we do in Wake County is focused on student achievement,” he wrote. “That mission remains the same.”
The turnover at the top is definitely on the town’s radar, however. Here’s video from a press conference at which board chair Kevin Hill and vice-chair Keith Sutton discuss the firing. The News & Observer has been tangling with some of the potential political repercussions of the move—for the district and for Tata himself—and the paper’s coverage of the events garnered hundreds of comments.
In the meantime, the board is working on what will be the district’s third student-assignment plan in three years, and needs to plan buildings and transportation for a student population that continues to grow rapidly. The board will be conducting a nationwide search for Tata’s successor. They have said that they’re looking for someone with experience working with school boards, which Tata, who was a career-switcher who trained at the Broad Superintendents Academy and had not been a superintendent before moving to Wake County, had lacked. Any guesses as to who might be interested in taking on a leadership role in this large district?
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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.