The Seattle School Board, by a split vote, is negotiating to hire a one-year-and-out interim superintendent, Brent Jones, a specialist in diversity issues who has worked for the District a few times before and is left to work for Metro Transit. The vacancy next June is caused by the board’s falling out with the current superintendent, Denise Juneau, who resigned a day before a likely vote by the board to part ways and not renew her three-year contract. Juneau, previously Montana state superintendent of schools, has served for three years but clashed with the take-charge new school board president, Chandra Hampson. Juneau has a national reputation and might well move to another job before her contract expires in June.
Some tea leaves. Seattle is in for a period of board domination of the superintendent, as indicated by the board’s choice not to hire an experienced or retired superintendent of stature who might impose changes. The one board vote against Jones was cast by Leslie Harris, who dominated the board before the rapid ascent of Hampson. Jones’s specialty, equity issues, is in line with the current board’s strong priority, correcting the achievement gaps with minorities, especially black boys. Finally, the turnover at the top is a familiar Seattle story whereby boards set too-ambitious goals for racial equity and when progress is slight, blame and toss out the superintendent for being “too slow.”