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School & District Management

Seattle Superintendent Fired in Wake of Finance Scandal

By Christina A. Samuels — March 03, 2011 1 min read

Maria Goodloe-Johnson, who has led the 47,000-student Seattle district since early 2007, was ousted by a unanimous vote of the school board after a state audit brought to light improper activity in the district’s small business contracting program.

The audit, which was released Feb. 23, said that the district spend more than $1.5 million for a “questionable public purpose,” and close to $300,000 on services that it did not receive.

The program was originally created to help small businesses learn how to bid for contracts at the school district. It provided training and technical assistance to companies at no cost. But the district administrator who ran the program steered contracts toward companies that charged the district inflated prices for questionable services, the audit said. For example, Seattle schools paid a vendor nearly $75,000 for training materials that appeared to be copied from other sources. The administrator, Silas Potter, resigned in 2010, and the program has been shut down.

The audit didn’t directly implicate Goodloe-Johnson, whose contract had recently been extended. But board members signaled their intent a day before the Wednesday vote, saying that the audit exposed information that they didn’t know before. Also fired was the district’s chief financial and operations officer, Don Kennedy.Goodloe-Johnson will be paid a severance package of $264,000, which is a year’s salary, plus close to $10,000 in benefits

Goodloe-Johnson, the former superintendent of Charleston schools in South Carolina and a 2003 graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy, has been away from Seattle to care for her sick mother. She released a statement Wednesday that thanked the Seattle schools community for their commitment and hard work, without directly addressing the audit or her removal.

Susan Enfield, the district’s chief academic officer, was appointed interim superintendent. The Seattle Times has a profile of the administrator, who joined the district just a year and a half ago.

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