School & District Management

Minneapolis Chooses Anchorage Schools’ Leader as New Superintendent

By Denisa R. Superville — May 25, 2016 1 min read
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The Minneapolis school board has picked Ed Graff, the current superintendent of the Anchorage, Alaska, school district, as its new schools chief.

In a 6-3 vote Tuesday, Graff beat out Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota’s education chief and a former associate superintendent in the district. Both candidates met with members of the community and were interviewed by the board last week.

The school board hopes to finalize a contract with Graff by Friday, and he is expected to start the job in July. Graff does not have a Minnesota license, but board members said they were confident that he would receive a two-year variance from the state Board of Education while working to get his license, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Tuesday’s vote brought to an end a 16-month search that was not without controversy.

The district’s last permanent superintendent was Bernadeia Johnson, who resigned from the post in January 2015. In December, the board offered the job to a Massachusetts educator, Sergio Paez, just days before a report was published alleging that some special education students in a school in his district, Holyoke, had been mistreated while Paez was the superintendent.

In a January meeting, the board withdrew the offer to Paez. Some protesters interrupted that meeting when a move was made to offer the job to Michael Goar, who had been the runner-up and had been in charge since Johnson left. Some demanded a new search.

Graff, a Minnesota native, has been superintendent in Anchorage since 2013. But last year, the board voted not to renew his contract, saying that it needed new leadership to pursue “aggressive” goals, according to the local papers. He has spent nearly his entire education career in Alaska, where he worked his way up from school principal, director of elementary education, and chief academic officer.

Starting on June 1, Michael Thomas, the district’s chief of schools, will serve as interim superintendent until Graff takes over in July.

Photo caption: Ed Graff, the outgoing superintendent of the Anchorage Alaska school district, was chosen as the new superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools. Photo courtesy Minneapolis Public Schools.

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.