Denise Juneau, the departing superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, will leave her job on May 1, two months shy of when her contract ends on June 30, the district announced Friday.
Juneau said late last year she would not seek to renew her contract after her relationship with the School Board became strained over the district’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
She did not answer a call or text to her cellphone requesting comment, and a district spokesperson declined an interview.
The district will buy out the rest of Juneau’s contract, which entitles her to an annual base salary of $300,000.
A district news release on Friday said the decision will ease the transition between Juneau and her interim successor, Brent Jones. Her departure falls more than six weeks before the last day of the school year. She will remain in the Seattle area and “be available as a resource to the new leadership to help with the transition,” the news release said.
“It makes sense for our students, families, teachers and staff to make this change in May,” said a statement from Juneau in the release. “I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past few years and especially during this difficult year of so many adjustments due to the COVID pandemic.”
Seattle School Board president Chandra Hampson said the decision was “amiable” and “mutual.”
“There’s no juicy story,” said Hampson. “I wish Denise all the best.”
Talks around an earlier leadership transition began three weeks ago, according to Hampson. The earlier departure will allow Jones to have a more direct role in planning for summer school and fall, she said.
It also provides Juneau with an earlier exit in the face of intense public scrutiny. Over the past year, the Seattle teachers union and the Seattle special education PTSA took votes of no-confidence in the district and its leadership.
“It’s difficult to have someone on their way out in such difficult times … They’re an easy target for hyperbolic criticism,” Hampson said. “I didn’t like seeing that … It makes sense to have those transitions happen sooner.”
Juneau joined Seattle Public Schools in July 2018.
Her successor, Jones, has held high-ranking posts at the school district, county government, and other K-12 and community college systems. He is expected to serve for a year while the district searches for a permanent replacement.
Seattle Times staff reporter Hannah Furfaro contributed to this story.