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Alexandria School superintendent abruptly leaves job

4:53 PM, Aug 30, 2013   |    comments
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- Students who attend Alexandria City Public Schools haven't even started the school year and there's been a major disruption. 

The School Superintendent has left his post with just three days to the start of the school year.  School boardmembers vote 8-1 to allow Morton Sherman out of his contract two years early.

If Sherman was pressured to leave no one is saying. Kerry Donley, Former City Mayor said, "It seems mutual." And there's no love lost between some of the parents and Dr. Sherman.

One of the parents, Kristine Eelkema, said, "I don't care if it's the beginning of the year. I'm glad he's gone." Nakia Carter said, "This should have been done at the beginning of the summer and not 3 days before the school year."

Donley said, "While I wish Dr. Sherman well, his tenure has been marked by turmoil and change."

Former Alexandria Mayor Kerry Donley was vice Mayor in 2012 when he publicly called for Sherman's resignation.

"I did call for his resignation largely because of financial mismanagement in the capital budget. There was woeful oversight. And proper accounting weren't in place. That was a signal to me things weren't right."

Sherman's tenure has also been marred by complaints of under performing schools, low test scores and personality conflicts.  
 
Repeated calls to Sherman went unanswered and no one was at his home. In a letter to staff members, Sherman wrote he is leaving the post early for personal and professional reasons.

The school board agreed to pay Sherman close to 40% of the remaining two years of his contract and paid leave time totaling more than $280,000.

Eelkema said, "That disgusts me, we're paying someone to leave."

The situation in Alexandria had us thinking what other top superintendents in our area earn. WUSA9 discovered recent base salary information that was available.   

Montgomery County's Joshua Starr earns $250,000 per year. He's in his second year on the job. Karen Garza is in her first year leading Fairfax County.  Her base salary is $265,000 a year.

Kaya Henderson earns $250,000 leading D-C Public Schools.

And Loudoun County's Edgar Hatrick is the dean of area superintendents.   He makes nearly $240,000 a year.  He's also retiring at the end of the year after 22-years leading Loudoun schools.

PRESS RELEASE FROM ACPS:

Alexandria, Va. - The Alexandria City School Board voted tonight to release Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Morton Sherman from the remainder of his contract in response to his request to arrange for an early retirement. The contract, which would have ended June 30, 2015, had approximately 22 months remaining. 
"The Board decided to release Dr. Sherman from his remaining contract after a great deal of deliberation," said School Board Chair Karen Graf. "After confirming that the contract release is manageable within the existing budget, the Board voted to pay 39 percent of the remaining contract months, for a value equaling $222,261, plus earned paid leave time valued at $59,246." 
"The Board thanks Dr. Sherman for his service to ACPS and the Alexandria community," Graf said. "During his five years as superintendent, Dr. Sherman helped develop a strategic plan, and he leaves ACPS tangible plans for improvement." 
The Board approved Margaret "Margee" Walsh, Ed.D., to assume immediately the role of acting superintendent until an interim superintendent is named. The interim superintendent will remain in that position until the Board appoints a permanent replacement for Dr. Sherman. A Board work session and public hearing in September will start the community engagement process of the superintendent search.

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