School & District Management

Two Big-District Superintendents Announce Plans to Leave

By Christina A. Samuels — May 23, 2011 1 min read

If it’s spring, it must be time for superintendent moves.

Melody Johnson, superintendent of the 80,000-student Fort Worth, Texas, district since 2005, and Sydney Cousin, who has led the 51,000-student Howard County, Md., district since 2004, announced plans to leave their posts.

In the case of Johnson, the departure is not entirely amicable. In her brief resignation letter, provided here courtesy of WFAA-TV in Dallas/Fort Worth, Johnson said: “In recent months, however, it has been increasingly difficult to remain effectively focused on the instructional agenda for our students.”

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram offers more detail.

Besides facing a state funding crisis and student test scores that lag behind other urban districts, the next superintendent of the Fort Worth school district will have to deal with a school board that does not always play nice. In recent months some trustees have been increasingly critical of Superintendent Melody Johnson, sending heated, accusatory e-mails to each other and staff members and regularly making snide comments to each other during meetings.

Johnson plans to stay on the job until September.

In Howard County, Cousin said he plans to leave at the end of his contract in June 2012 because of health reasons. He is battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as a neurological condition that forced him to take a four-month medical leave of absence.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

Cousin, 65, revealed that while he was vacationing with his wife in Rio de Janeiro in December, waiting for an elevator at Sugarloaf Mountain, he suddenly passed out. He was flown home and ultimately diagnosed with a neurological condition that has affected his memory and required him to receive physical, occupational and speech therapy. Cousin, who was found to have non-Hodgkin's lymphoma last August, said he was aware that most people assumed he was out because of the cancer. But he said, "It was because my memory was gone. I was in therapy." ...

The article went on to quote county officials who praised Cousin’s work.

Dr. Cousin has been instrumental in creating a culture of continuous improvement that has guided the staff as they work to ensure that all of our children grow, develop and learn to their potentials," said County Council member Mary Kay Sigaty, a former school board member.

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