More than 100 people applied to become the next Cleveland school superintendent, the Cleveland Plain Dealer recently reported. Among the applicants was a familiar face.
"The Cleveland job did not attract marquee personalities like former Washington, D.C., schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee," wrote reporter Thomas Ott. "A sample shows names such as Buffalo Deputy Superintendent Folasade Oladele; Detroit Assistant Superintendent Wilma Taylor-Costen; Kansas City, Mo., schools Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Lee-Gwin; and Chief Academic Officer Michael Munoz of Des Moines, Iowa."
Seeing the deputy superintendent's name in the mix came as something of a surprise to Buffalo Board of Education members, who apparently thought Oladele had her hands plenty full overseeing the development of turnaround plans for the district's nine persistently lowest-achieving (PLA) schools.
You might recall that the board still has not seen those plans, which originally had been due May 2. The district now has until May 9 to submit them to Albany.
"Everybody has the right to advance their career, but I'm troubled by the timing right now," said board vice president Chris Jacobs. "When the person that's appointed to head up this whole PLA process -- this dramatic change that could go either way -- that person may not have 100 percent focus on that, I'm concerned."
Ralph Hernandez echoed similar thoughts: "We are facing an educational crisis here in Buffalo. We need people in key positions to stay focused on Buffalo Public Schools only."
John Licata wondered whether Oladele's interest in leaving the district were indicative of a larger issue.
"If you are looking for other employment, it means you're dissatisfied with your current job, or you're concerned for your tenure. That's different from being recruited because you're doing such a good job," said Licata. "What we're talking about here is somebody looking."
He noted that human resources director Valerie DeBerry recently left the district.
"My concern is we're seeing the beginning of an exodus [of administrators] based on a number of factors," Licata said. "One is the transparency that is being forced upon the administration. Two, the parent activism I know I've been inviting and other board members have been inviting."
- Mary Pasciak