Interim superintendent takes post as Richmond searches for replacement

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–After several difficult years for Richmond Public schools (RPS)  faces a difficult and critical decision.

Who will replace former superintendent Yvonne Brandon? Education advocates and school board members say repairs in the district are overdue.

“You can’t get a system this bad and expect it’s going to heal itself after two decades,” said education advocate Marty Jewell.

Jewell believes the need for new leadership at Richmond Public Schools is abundantly clear. He’s now working with a new formed coalition to push for speedy change.  It’s change even Mayor Dwight Jones alluded to in a speech he made in February of 2012.

The mayor’s advice then was to stop settling for mediocrity in schools and strive for a higher standard.

Last year RPS had the lowest on time graduation rate in the state, also plagued with another deficit causing layoffs and furloughs.  Now this month comes the departure Brandon, who was with the school system for 35 years.  She leaves with a severance of nearly $200,000.

“Given that she had a pretty solid extended contract, i think we did the best we could,” said board member Kim Gray.

Brandon had another two years on her contract. The severance is equal to about just one year’s pay of her salary.

“They gave Dr. Brandon that five year extension with no benchmarks, no requirements…insane,”  said Jewell.

Now as the search for a new RPS leader begins, the idea of more accountability, more monitored progress in the contract is being addressed by advocates and board members alike.

“That’s gotta get fixed ..it’s fixable,” said Jewell.

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