Scottsdale Unified School District Superintendent David Peterson has apparently been sacked by the SUSD governing board.
No reason for the expulsion was given by either the District or by Peterson. A cursory review of published agendas shows that the board met on 24 November 2015,
…in Executive Session for:
A. Discussion and consideration of the Superintendent’s annual evaluation, pursuant to A.R.S. §38-431.03(A)(1).
On 7 December the board met,
…in Executive Session for:
A. Discussion or consultation for legal advice with the attorney or attorneys of the public body regarding Superintendent’s contract, pursuant to A.R.S. §38-431.03(A)(3).
B.Discussion or consultation with the attorneys of the public body in order to consider its position and instruct its attorneys regarding the public body’s position regarding contracts that are the subject of negotiations, pursuant to A.R.S. §38-431.03(A)(4)-Superintendent’s contract.
C. Discussion and consideration of the employment of the Superintendent, including his contract, pursuant to A.R.S. §38-431.03(A)(1). (The employee has been notified in writing in accordance with the statutory provision.).
D.Discussion or consultation for legal advice with the attorney or attorneys of the public body regarding an investigation of an employee’s potential claim, pursuant to A.R.S. §38-431.03(A)(3) and (4).
I have submitted a public records request to SUSD for a copy of Peterson’s “Employment Separation Agreement,” which was agendized for a vote at yesterday’s board meeting (15 Dec).
Unapologetic Peterson cheerleader (and SUSD board chair) Bonnie Sneed continued her accolades for Peterson even as he was headed out the door. Which of course leaves any prospective applicant for Peterson’s job absolutely no clue as to what to do differently in order to KEEP the job. Board members George Jackson, and Kim Hartmann have been equally unhelpful.
In a Scottsdale Independent article regarding the renewal of Peterson’s $200,000/year contract almost a year ago for a period of three years, dissenting board members Barbara Perleberg and Pam Kirby offered some non-specific objections to Peterson’s performance.
Peterson came to SUSD from the Mesa Unified Public School District in 2007 to be the “Chief of Facilities Management.” After a stint as interim superintendent, the board hired Peterson as “permanent” superintendent in 2011.
Peterson’s tenure included:
- a large construction program, followed shortly thereafter by closing of schools due to shrinking enrollment (which also shrinks the budget, under a per-pupil funding formula),
- financial reporting irregularities,
- a controversial property swap with the City of Scottsdale,
- a Maintenance and Operations (M & O) budget override (funded by property taxes) that was barely approved by the voters, yet does not seem to have made much of a difference in the areas for which it was sold to the voters,
- a nebulous B.U.S.S. (“Business United for Scottsdale Schools”) partnership with the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce (Peterson is listed as a member of the board of the campaign-finance-law-violating Chamber of Commerce),
- a series of disturbing arrests of SUSD personnel for misconduct (Weaver, McClellan, and just last week, McKenna),
- steady churn of teachers and staff, due in-part to low salaries,
Any one of these could have contributed to Peterson’s demise.
As recently as October 2015, Peterson proclaimed that he’d “…stopped the decline…” in SUSD enrollment. SUSD board member Pam Kirby–continuing to ratchet-up her criticism of Peterson–took issue with his assertion. I have also submitted a public records request for most-recent SUSD enrollment statistics. Unfortunately, Ms. Kirby has been silent on the topic of Peterson’s departure, so we don’t know how much enrollment has to do with it.
And remarkably, the self-aggrandized”government watchdog” Arizona Republic has not seen fit (as of this morning) to give any ink at all to Peterson’s untimely departure.
Ultimately, though, the SUSD governing board is responsible for hiring a good superintendent and for holding that person accountable. You, the voter, need to exercise your responsibility in hiring YOUR elected board to steward YOUR tax dollars and the future value of YOUR property and YOUR community…and I ask you to be mindful of that when it comes time to consider Sneed, Jackson, and Hartmann, who allowed Peterson to continue far too long.