The Seattle Times Editorial Board says it is time for the superintendent of the Seattle Public Schools, Maria Goodloe-Johnson, to go.
THE emerging details of the financial scandal at the Seattle Public Schools suggest one conclusion: Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson should resign. If she doesn’t, the board should fire her.
She was brought here from South Carolina in 2007 to fix several problems, the first of which was the district’s lax control of its money. The latest mess shows the task has not been done.
The gist of the story is that several years ago the district was having trouble getting enough bids on its smaller construction jobs. It set up a program using capital funds to qualify minority- and women-owned contractors to bid. To run the program, the district hired Silas Potter Jr.
He was a poor choice. Potter was, according to the School Board’s investigator, a “marginal employee” who had left a string of unpaid bills, including his child support and federal taxes. Without permission, he changed the program from qualifying bidders to training people in small businesses, which is not the mission of a public school district.
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When the state auditor ruled that capital funds could not be used for such a purpose, the district had to repay the capital fund with $2 million in money that should have gone to the classroom.
Potter’s operation, the Regional Small Business Development Program, was run openly. According to the investigator, other district employees were appalled by it; they considered Potter “a con man” who was protected by his boss.
Goodloe-Johnson was higher up the chain and should have stopped it. It took a report from state Auditor Brian Sonntag and effort by the School Board to stop it.
Goodloe-Johnson has done several praiseworthy things since coming to Seattle. She closed schools her predecessor should have closed. She returned to a system of neighborhood schools. She oversaw the negotiation of a much better teacher contract.
Eight years ago, this page called for Superintendent Joseph Olchefske to step down when the district lost track of $35 million. Now this superintendent has failed to live up to the taxpayers’ expectations.
Time for new leadership.