RICHMOND, Va. – Wednesday evening's emergency Richmond School Board meeting was to discuss Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden’s possible departure. Bedden is one of the finalists being considered for superintendent of Boston Public Schools.
On Wednesday Richmond School Board members would not comment publicly about what happened during the closed-door meeting they said was to talk about "business."
Bedden, who has been superintendent of the struggling school system since January of 2014, was still on the job Thursday, according to Richmond Public Schools.Bedden was previously superintendent for the Irving Independent School District in Texas. Bedden also served as superintendent for Richmond County in Georgia and was a regional superintendent for Philadelphia Public Schools.
Before Bedden took the helm in 2014, Richmond Public Schools had been searching for a superintendent since Dr. Yvonne Brandon announced she was leaving in April of 2013 after 35 years on the job. For months, there had been speculation over whether Brandon would continue to lead the struggling school system.
“There was likely a difference of philosophy where the schools should go [or] ought to go,” Richmond School Board Chair Jeffrey Bourne said in April.
The city school system has faced various challenges, including a massive budget deficit, low graduation rates and questions over wasteful spending.
Still, parents and school board members alike were surprised by the news that Dr. Bedden had his sights set on a job outside of the district he just joined 13 months ago.
"When you have somebody with those sort of credentials and that sort of passion and professionalism, at some point, somebody is going to come knocking," Bourne said.
"We really thought we had a Superintendent that was very interested in seeing Richmond move forward," said Charles Willis, a concerned parent. "We're going to keep moving forward. This time we want to search for a superintendent that really is chosen by the community."
"This is a sudden move with the closing of Elkhardt," he added. "And then, the fact that you just announced that you’re going to fire over half of the staff at MLK. This is an extremely crucial moment, and this is a big disruption."
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