The Interim Superintendent
By Susan Black
Days before the 2007-08 year started, a Wisconsin school board scrambled to hire an interim superintendent to manage its 21,000-student district. Board members had voted to place the superintendent on a year-long leave of absence, at full salary, followed by forced retirement.
Sometimes interim appointments go smoothly, but sometimes things get rough. In Detroit, for instance, attorneys are sorting out the legality of the board’s decision to fire the superintendent and hire an interim. In the meantime, an interim, who served the district before the latest superintendent was hired and fired, is seeking reinstatement. To complicate matters, the board president suspended the board’s attorney for representing the superintendent, who contends that she’s entitled to keep her job, too.
In some districts, interim superintendents play a version of musical chairs. In Cottonwood, a small district in California’s Shasta County, the board hired an interim for 2008-09. The new interim replaced a previous interim. The first interim replaced a superintendent who moved to a nearby district, leaving behind an “unresolved controversy” regarding a salary contract and complaints filed by the teachers union.
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