Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau will resign at the end of June, she said in a Tuesday statement.
Her resignation follows the local NAACP’s call for her termination. On Tuesday, The Seattle Times reported that Seattle School Board President Chandra Hampson didn’t expect that Juneau had sufficient votes to support the renewal of her contract; the board was to have made that decision next Wednesday.
“There has never been a more important time for unity and healing,” Juneau said in the statement. “For progress to continue in Seattle, the full-throated support of a united school board is essential. This school board must choose a superintendent with whom they can co-lead and move forward together.”
The relationship between Juneau and some School Board members has been strained over the past year, with the pandemic adding to heightened concern about SPS’ direction.
Hampson said Juneau has some traits of someone who is steady through a crisis, but that she lacks the skills to effectively manage the district’s operational challenges and respond to feedback from community members, particularly around allegations of racism, abuse and misconduct in schools, some of which were made public in a series of stories published by KUOW this year.
Her efforts to address those issues haven’t been systemic enough, Hampson said. She said the district has also not been transparent about elements of its pandemic response, which made it hard for School Board members to make critical decisions around reopening schools.
“I have a great amount of respect for her … but I don’t believe we’re in the place where we’ll continue for the long haul,” said Hampson. “It’s going to be hard for some people to hear that.”
In her statement, Juneau said the district “made significant progress on many fronts” during her short tenure. She said she was specifically proud of creating the Office of African American Male Achievement.
Read the full statement below.
It has been the greatest honor of my professional journey to serve Seattle Public
Schools students, families, school leaders, educators, and staff.
While the past two and a half years have been extraordinary and deeply fulfilling, I am today announcing that I am leaving Seattle Public Schools. I will not seek a new contract and will not be serving the district beyond the conclusion of my current contract, which finishes at the end of June 2021.
I have embraced the many challenges inherent in leading our school district, and we have made significant progress on many fronts. I came here with a dream to drive a powerful anti-racist agenda for Seattle’s school leaders, educators, parents, and students, and I worked aggressively to build a bold strategic plan focused on a better, fairer system for students of color furthest from educational justice. I’m especially proud of how, together, we have changed our system and structures to better serve African American boys and teens through the Office of African American Male Achievement.
I have been proud to lead and to rely on a community of educators who have taken on the challenge of keeping our students healthy and safe. But the profound suffering caused by the pandemic has caused so many people to experience deep, personal pain – a pain I share and know, having lost my own father to the virus a few weeks ago.
And now, there has never been a more important time for unity and healing. For progress to continue in Seattle, the full-throated support of a united school board is essential. This school board must choose a superintendent with whom they can co-lead and move forward together.
I am honored to have had the opportunity to lead and learn here. I will carry the spirit and lessons of this community and experience with me, and hope that our time spent together has helped strengthen the foundation for the continued growth for all our truly remarkable students.