Minneapolis schools superintendent abruptly resigns


Bernadeia Johnson, the superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools for the past four years, resigned her position Tuesday.

The school district said in a news release late Tuesday afternoon that Johnson would leave her position at the end of January 2015.

The school board accepted Johnson's resignation at its meeting Tuesday evening, and named Chief Executive Officer Michael Goar as interim superintendent effective Feb. 1.

In a letter to be sent to all families in the district Wednesday, Johnson said her departure was spurred in part by family commitments that have become more challenging.

"In order for MPS and our schools to continue making progress, they need a leader with a level of intensity and focus which I am unable to give at this time. My commitments to family – specifically the care of elderly grandparents – are increasingly in competition with the extraordinary demands of this position. Without question, the work of educating our children must move forward, and at this time, I must put my family first."

You can read Johnson’s entire letter here.

School Board chair Richard Mammen called Johnson "an exemplary leader and champion" for Minneapolis school students.

"We all share responsibility for the complexities of our enterprise and the results achieved so far. Her sense of urgency, ambitious goals and strong leadership team will continue to guide the school district moving forward," he said in a statement.

As the Star Tribune notes, however, Johnson has been under fire in recent months for not having much success in addressing the district's achievement gap between white students and students of color.

Just a few weeks ago, the school board told Johnson it was concerned about the “lack of academic progress, particularly among low-income students of color who are the majority of Minneapolis public schools.”

Johnson rolled out a new academic plan called Acceleration 2020 this school year in an attempt to address the racial achievement gap more aggressively. She also instituted new and controversial policies to address perceived inequality in student suspension rates.

Last month, Johnson announced that she would review all school suspensions of children of color to ensure that discipline was being fairly administered. That plan was criticized by some who claimed it was biased against white students.

In a commentary published by the Washington Post, Johnson took on her critics, saying "minority students do not misbehave more than their white peers; they are disciplined more severely for the same behaviors."

The initiatives begun by Johnson may be put on hold or scrapped as she leaves her office, and as new members join the school board in January.

Johnson did not attend the Tuesday board meeting and was not immediately available for comment. She was not asked to resign, school district officials told the Star Tribune.

As part of her separation agreement, Johnson is entitled to to a position as a principal in the district, according to the Star Tribune.

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