Just days after the resolution of a contentious educators strike, Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff has revealed he plans to step down.
Graff announced the decision first in an email to School Board members, writing he plans to decline a third contract — meaning he will step down as superintendent once his current contract ends on June 30, 2022.
"I am proud of what we have accomplished over these six years," wrote Graff, a Bemidji native who took the position in 2016 after a superintendent stint in Anchorage, Alaska. He highlighted a number of initiatives as accomplishments, including the redistricting plan meant to improve equity in a district that, like much of the state, is plagued by stark achievement gaps.
"The unforeseen challenges we have endured reinforced my belief that it is critically important for large urban districts not to chase the latest fads or drop initiatives after one or two years in search of a quick fix," Graff wrote in his letter Wednesday. "To this end, we remained focused on the key levers previously identified to improve outcomes for all students."
Graff, however, became the subject of often-scathing criticism during the recent weekslong educators strike, with the union pointing to significantly lower pay compared to other districts for both teachers and ESPs, a lack of mental health support for students and ballooning class sizes — plus Graff's base salary of $230,000.
Things remained tense Tuesday night, even after schools welcomed back students, during a school board meeting to approve an elongated calendar (an agreement struck between the district and union). During a 5-minute recess to address attendees' opposition to the plan, Graff stood up and walked out of the room.
The superintendent highlights a number of challenges in his resignation notice, including the murder of George Floyd and the COVID pandemic, but does not mention the recent strike.
"It was a difficult decision but ultimately, after praying and careful consideration I’ve decided that it is time to turn over the helm of leadership in Minneapolis to someone new," his letter reads. "MPS has a team of committed and dedicated educators, parents and community members who want our students to succeed and I am confident they will continue to join hands with you to make that happen.
"I am profoundly grateful and honored for having been given a chance to serve. Our children, MPS students, are truly special, and I will always treasure them in my heart."