Sava Quits as Head of Education Leaders' Group

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Washington--Samuel G. Sava, executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, has resigned as chairman of a coalition of education leaders following the group's release last month of a statement harshly critical of Secretary of Education William J. Bennett.

Mr. Sava, who remains a member of the coalition--the Educational Leaders Consortium--said he relinquished the group's chairmanship because the statement was made public before he had an opportunity to modify it and send it as a letter to Mr. Bennett. (See Education Week, Dec. 18, 1985.)

Mr. Sava has not sent a letter based on the statement to Mr. Bennett, and it was uncertain last week whether the elc would make such a formal presentation to the Secretary, said Samuel B. Husk, executive director of the Council of Great City Schools and acting chairman of the coalition, which includes the leaders of 18 major Washington-based education associations.

Mr. Husk said the statement remains the consensus of the consortium members.

Resignation Letter

In a Dec. 17 letter to his colleagues in the 18-member coalition, Mr. Sava wrote that "the handling of the recent elc 'Joint Statement' concerning Secretary Bennett and the Department of Education has injured my reputation and personal integrity."

He said the statement that was released was a working draft and was distributed "without my seeing [it], and before I had the opportunity to approve the language or discharge the basic professional courtesy of informing Secretary Bennett that an elc statement critical of some of his recent positions was about to be released."

Thomas Shannon, executive director of the National School Boards Association and an elc member, said he was "stunned" by Mr. Sava's reaction.

"The fuss is much ado about nothing," said Mr. Shannon, who was represented at the meeting by an nsba staff member. Like Mr. Husk, Mr. Shannon said elc members voted at the meeting to approve the statement. "The elc met and took an action that was in the public domain," he said.

Mr. Sava dictated the text of the statement to an Education Week reporter in an interview shortly after it was adopted, and he then answered several questions about its intent and background.

That afternoon, Dec. 10, the education news service of the National School Public Relations Association carried a story about the statement.

John H. Wherry, executive director of the nspra and a consortium member, called the incident a "mis-understanding" between himself and Mr. Sava about whether the language adopted by the elc was final or whether Mr. Sava, as chairman, retained the prerogative to modify it.

"At that time, we felt it was a final statement," said Mr. Wherry, who added that the elc is now developing guidelines for such matters as group announcements.

'Negative Statements'

The elc statement condemned the Education Department's Chapter 1 voucher bill and Mr. Bennett's "constant flow of negative and inflammatory statements" about the public schools.

An aide to Mr. Bennett said Mr. Sava subsequently sought, and was granted, a meeting with the Secretary to apologize for the incident.

Mr. Bennett and his staff were particularly upset about Mr. Sava's involvement in the elc action, a senior aide said, because the Secretary had designated 1985-86 the "Year of the Elementary School"--a move department officials believe should have muted criticism from the elementary-school principals' group, which Mr. Sava heads.

Moreover, added the aide, "It seemed to us that the timing [of the statement] was so crazy. ... There's been nothing in the news that would come anywhere close to what the statement criticizes."

Vol. 05, Issue 17

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