Potter Goes to a Sunny Climate - Tampa, Florida

Good for the Times finding him. (I had my own little research going and found out that he went to high school in two schools in Michigan. He claimed he had attended Columbia and a Michigan university but no degrees listed. He also says on his Facebook page, "To know me is to love me."

Well, the Seattle Times has an extensive review of his tenure at SPS so read it and tell me how much in love you are by the end. Me, not so much.

I said elsewhere that I wondered if Fred Stephens, as head of Facilities, took his eye off the BEX ball as several projects had cost overruns. I mean if he gave Silas Potter free rein, then he probably gave Don Gilmore (then head of BEX projects) free rein. I have asked myself WHY Fred Stephens did this. (One thing I can say slightly in his defense is that a couple of years ago a son was murdered. I know it took a toll on him as it would anyone.)

I do want to pose a couple of questions just for input (or just for the heck of it):
  • should the Board just buy out Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's contract as the easiest, quickest way to exit her? Many in the Times' comment section have said they would be very angry if this happened but I'm trying to be practical here.
  • Or should they fire her (and given the list Charlie regularly prints of the Board policies she has not followed, I think they have cause) and let her take the district to court if she wants to?
  • If the Board takes the second choice and she wins, do you think it is likely she could win more than if they just bought her out?


Anonymous said…
I think they should fire her and use any of the "just causes" that Charley lists....

But, I know this Board and frankly I do not think they have the guts to do this nor do I think the Board still gives parents any credibility when it comes to the day-lighting of issues we have seen over the past two plus years that would hand them “just cause.”

So, they will buy her out. And that actually may be cheaper in the long run given all the corruption that MGJ is allowing.

Final predication:
Four board members standing proudly on the soapbox running for re-election on the platform, we got rid of her....

None of them, by the way, will get my vote!

Mr. Edelman said…
If the Board buys her out, then it will be an election issue in the fall. "You wasted taxpayer money buying out the superintendent because you didn't have the guts to fire her." Buying her out would be a gift to the challengers in the fall.

In a way, I hope all four run for reelection. Stand for Children will find candidates to replace any incumbents who don't run for reelection. It's better for challengers to run against weakened incumbents.

All four came to office in a kindler, gentler era. They should prepare themselves for some strong rhetoric.
Anonymous said…

Public School Parent
I would think long and hard before I voted for someone put forth by Stand for Children.
BL said…
I think the board should do nothing except require that Maria engage in some professional development in the form of daily executive coaching sessions with Melissa, Charlie, Meg, Dorothy...
Maria and her coaches will report progress to the board on a weekly basis.
Anonymous said…
If they get it rid of her... and it's still a pretty big if, they will have to hire someone new. That person will require a big sign on bonus, and probably another huge increase. Think of the money required there, no doubt it will run into the millions. Do you realy think SPS is an attractive spot for potential superintendents?

anonymous said…
Non necessarily parent.
Look at this two ways.

Yes, someone is coming into a mess. However, I think that someone with the chops can come in and clean up Dodge. We need someone with a proven record as a Superintendent (not necessarily a reformer).

But I still believe Dr. Goodloe-Johnson picked Seattle for a number of good factors:

- urban but not too urban district (we're not LA or Detroit)
- community cares about and votes for education
- strong education community
- liveable city to relocate to

Honestly, I think we can get a good person but again, it has to be the RIGHT person. Remember, bad economy and despite what people like to think about Seattle, superintendents today move around a lot.
peonypower said…
I would really like to see her fired as I doubt she will resign. Given that - I just want to see her GO. Sometimes what is just and right is not what will happen and sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on. I learned this when dealing with my Dad's evil second wife. We had to pay her to get rid of her.

I know if the board does not get rid of her they will have committed political suicide. Let's hope they do the right thing.
Anonymous said…
I agree with the poster on another thread who said that asking for MGJ's resignation is no silver bullet. Why not use this opportunity to put more safeguards and expectations in place and give her six months to show results on specific tasks. It will be too costly to remove her and bring in somebody else. I think the operations and finance positions are crucial to address without MGJ involvement in terms of who gets hired. Let the Board also detail how it will be working differently to protect the people in the district and establish basic accountabilities. There is no silver bullet here for the mess that is Central Office and School Board.

wseadawg said…
Everyone Accountable, right?

No buyouts. All that does is allow MGJ to go somewhere else and hurt that community next. What about caring about principles and our fellow citizens for once? She failed miserably and deserves to be fired. Let her sue and set fire to her own future if she wants. Who will hire her after that? She'll be radioactive and linked to this scandal forever. If there's one thing this SI isn't, it's politically smart. She only acts the way she does because she believes the billionaires will grease all the wheels for her along the way, which they do. Will they continue after episodes like this, probably.

Standing up to a bully, not cowering in fear, is always the right thing to do.
Unknown said…
Tell the board to prosecute or resign. They probably won't/can't because their involved and they can't incriminate themselves. By the sheer size of the fraud and the funds involved, the Feds should be involved - the expense of an investigaton and prosecution will help the entire country reasemble itself.

People who commit fraud create a culture that supports their goals and undermines the goals of all others. In education it is unfortunate because so many people are involved and academic goals become secondary. Just as an example, look at the number of personal service contracts created; not just the sum totals. This is a culture, not the negligence or ambitions of a single person. Extradite Potter and give him immunity so he can testify against the others...the reason this is so difficult because probably there are Federal employees who are as guilty as everyone else who's involved.
ma'am said…
MGJ should have been fired for cause for the harm she inflicted on the district not for this financial mess but the board will never step up to that because they supported her reforms. I just want her to leave without costing us more $.

I think they should require her to fire Kennedy and leave her to sit in his mess for a while. I have no doubt that she will leave on her own w/o him. She's probably looking for national openings right now.

Allowing her to scapegoat Kennedy will leave her hireable by another city or a ed reform organization and would mean that Seattle doesn't have to buy out her contract or get caught up in a legal battle if they fire her. (sounds like Rhode Island and Wisconsin's governors would appreciate her leadership style).

The other benefit is that it will make Seattle more attractive for future candidates if she leaves voluntarily.
"Why not use this opportunity to put more safeguards and expectations in place and give her six months to show results on specific tasks."

Parent, I understand that impulse but my impulse is to say "no and hell no."

She hasn't met the expectations she already had before her. She herself brought in people who failed us. We have had multiple audits and she still has issues. And, very few people really believe in her or trust her at headquarters. She has to go.
Salander said…
I will gladly fill MGJ's vacancy. I will even do the job for my current pay as a teacher.

SPS could then be run as my high school classroom is. Every one is allowed to speak, everyone must listen, decisions are weighted and voted on by all for the good of the community.People help and support each other.

Parents and their students are my priority. I actually enjoy these nurturing these relationships.

Best of all- I know nothing about being an administrator. I owe no allegiance to any corporate entity, I have no political agenda. I don't have to kowtow to special interests as I frankly know better than they do about the daily life of the school community.

If I am in over my head I know to ask for help from another teacher or counselor or even the librarian! I'm sure I could get help from math and accounting teachers.

I would promise to answer my own email if you invite me to your neighborhood gatherings.

The "reform" I believe in means not just getting rid of the current group of administration and hiring others just like them. I believe it is time to wrest control of education from the incompetent outsiders and give decision making back where it belongs- in the hands of the great school community.

Do you all think I can convince the current board to hire me and my teaching partners to take control of the unruly bullies? If not, will a group of you please stand for their positions and try a new approach?
Bird said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bird said…
You might give her six months to turn things around if you were concerned about the fact that she hasn't demonstrated any progress in improving the achievement gap.

You might give her six months to turn things around in addressing the imbalance of expenditures between the administration and the schools.

For fraud and fostering a culture where fraud can take place, you fire her.

That's the only reasonable choice.

She's shown herself to be untrustworthy. She's shown herself to not deal openly with gravely serious problems. She's shown herself to lie or minimize problems when addressing the school board.

We can't waste anymore time with her. The sooner we can move on the better.
Salander said…
Oh, and I would contract out the accounting to a professional accounting firm rather than leave the fox in charge of the hen house.
none1111 said…
LA TW said: In a way, I hope all four run for reelection. Stand for Children will find candidates to replace any incumbents who don't run for reelection. It's better for challengers to run against weakened incumbents.

Absolutely right. This has been a concern of mine for some time now.

Melissa followed with: I would think long and hard before I voted for someone put forth by Stand for Children.

My worry is that we won't really know, or perhaps not know until it's too late, who is pulling the strings on which candidates. Many of us (most, by definition of the vote) thought these 4 candidates looked pretty good 3 1/2 years ago; I know I was fooled. At least now we have a good idea about who backed the current directors. Without public acknowledgment by the organizations or public data regarding contributions, determining "good guys" from "bad guys" might not be as easy as we think/hope.

I feel like (hope) there are a number of people like yourself who have become very good at quickly digging into district affairs and such, but at this point if you were SFC, would you advertise which candidates you're supporting? Campaign donations can be tracked, but money can even float around between private parties if they felt desperate.

A related question: can campaign contributions be tracked in (near) real-time, or would it be possible for a late-in-the-game bunch of money to come into a campaign that wouldn't be traceable until after the election results? I've wondered about this for quite some time.
Anonymous said…

Thanks for that You Tube link. That guy Potter is a real shyster and there he is acting like he is untouchable. He is all out in the open about this. Of course the supe had to know!!! Everyone else in SPS did. How could she not know? This guy was on panels, had videos made about him and was part of every African American business and social circle in the area.

And the supe didn't know what was going on? She was simply relying on her CFO to handle all of these matters no questions asked!?

Oh pleeeze!

Fire the supe with cause.

We have all developed lists of valid reasons why she should be fired.

One good one is that there WAS a conflict of interest with the supe and NWEA. There is a link to e-mails between NWEA, the supe and the the Council of Great City Schools that shows the supe shilling the MAP to the council based on a nudge by NWEA.

It will all come out in the wash.
anonymous said…
You're hired Salander!
That Curious Monkey, Again. said…
Is there a link the Goodloe-Johnson's employment contract somewhere?

I'd like to read how "just cause" is defined.

For example, is it so narrowly defined that only crimes of "moral turpitude" constitute "just cause"? Or felonies?

I doubt mere negligence would be enough.

I'd also like to know the burden of proof.

Finally, I'd like to read the attorney fee clause.
NE mama said…
It's hard for me to imagine that there will ever be a superintendent that is both effective and popular. I don't agree with all of the things that MGJ has done, but at least I can see what she is trying to do. Seattle Public Schools are underfunded and underperforming. It's a no win job.
Bruce Taylor said…
If MGJ is fired and takes legal action against the district, then we could fund the litigation by dropping the appeal of the "arbitrary-and-carpricious" math textbook ruling.
Sarah said…
I don't know the legal defination of "for cause".

While I don't know the definition of "for cause", there is one thing I am certain:

MGJ rode into town unaware that Melissa Westbrook was here!!!!

Thanks Melissa!
Unknown said…
You should understand this - until now there has been no evidence between the underfunding and underachievement of Seattle's schools.

My position has always been that the underfunding was a misapppropriation of the capital funds which should have been channeled through the school site councils, but was not. This is at the core of the problem and what the Broad Center and the Center for Educational Leadership preach to their administrators. Detroit is a good example.

The problem is nation-wide and it is a catastrophe. It affects everything - right down to the nauseating math programs your district chooses for children to learn from. Your district won't act because they can't - the next thing dropping will likely be curtains so the manipulators of this charade can play musical chairs...I'd like to throw a few lightning bolts if I could.
seattle citizen said…
This is a big blow to the idea of "community schools," too. Using the community to help with education, or, at the extreme, inviting community to the schools to actually learn things, too, is a great idea that is meeting with success. But if the "community" is a select few who are being paid, directly or indirectly, for "working" with the district...
Central Mom said…
More about Potter's vendors, including Grace of Mercy, in the P-I.
Eric B said…
Kennedy should be fired for cause immediately. I have no doubt that this will happen, since he's the convenient person for everyone to throw under the bus. And given what I've read, that would be a just outcome.

I'm more conflicted about MGJ. I want her fired for cause in hopes that she would be unemployable as a superintendent in another district. However, that's asking for a long legal battle that we don't really have money for. I would be satisfied with the Board going to her and saying that she will either resign immediately or they will fire her for cause. I would not find a buyout acceptable. Hopefully, she would see the writing on the wall and bail. It's not like she bought a house here that she'd have to sell.
Maureen said…
Has her husband finished his graduate program yet? (Divinity I believe, but I don't know where. UW?)
Chris S. said…
I'm starting to think there are a lot of people out there, probably important people, who would prefer the scrutiny to end ASAP. Perhaps they can convince her to resign.

It's hard to think of her going somewhere else, but perhaps there's a good match out there - smaller district with squeaky-clean employees, perhaps? Oh yeah - let's let NWEA have her!
Bird said…
I'm starting to think there are a lot of people out there, probably important people, who would prefer the scrutiny to end ASAP.

I think that's true. It might be worth sending MGJ an email requesting her resignation with some of these people cc'ed.
Randy Francisco said…
If you read the definition of cause in the super's contract you can see how difficult it would be to terminate her for cause. She would win on that basis and the district would be out much more money. Hold your nose and be smart at this point.
Randy Francisco

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