Normally I would give the benefit of the doubt to the news of the resignation of a top official after a relatively short tenure at the helm of an important institution.
It is when we place the news that yet another school superintendent has resigned from the Clayton County School System into the context of its troubled history it would be wise to not give out such benefit.
The main credit that I give Dr Heatley is that he has stayed out of the news since 2009 when he took the helm and also kept the school system out of the news. Yes there have been news reports from the school system over time but these have been about transactional incidents such as conflicts between students or parents or some issues over bus transportation.
Clayton Schools was stripped of its accreditation back in 2008. This was done due to the failed leadership within the ecosystem. After a revolving door in the superintendent's chair due to conflicts between this seat and the school board, and conflicts among school board members - the die was cast.
Though some people would have you to believe that the guilt resided with SACS (Southern Association Of Colleges And Schools) - the accrediting agency - as they assume that SACS has it in for "Black Leadership" - this does not accurately portray the painful truth that far too often came to light.
The problem has been that the elected officials to the school board were ultimately not able to get beyond their inter-personal conflict as they placed the interests of the children above all else. In as much as it is true that an elected school board is the stepping stone to a larger political career due to the fact that it has low barriers for entry and that some activist minded parents are more attracted to an activist candidate that makes seemingly "strong willed" promises about how he or she is going to join the board and shake things up - of course "for the benefit of the children" - only to find out that there are far more activists than their are people with educational LEADERSHIP, managerial or organizational finance and planning skills to balance things out.
I actually believe that there should be "activists" within a legislative body. They serve the important function of bringing a greater awareness of some of the issues that are beyond what the raw numbers or words of regulatory policy provide in the way of the "interests of the people".
I have found, however, that when there is a certain tipping point that has been breached and the activists outweigh the technical professionals - a board and the system that they preside over often vacillates into chaos. Cliquish behavior with its associated turf battles grinds the governance function to a halt.
I AM NOT SAYING THAT THE PRESENT CLAYTON COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD SUFFERS FROM ANY OF THIS. Beyond small flashes of conflict within the board (a school system owned laptop used for personal files) - the news about the board since the system was reaccredited has been nil and this is good news.
Instability and political conflict has been the trademark of Clayton County Georgia government for at least 20 years. Each major conflict results in a mass exodus of a varying scale outward, at the hands of residents, toward another county that poses less risk in their pursuit of safety, stable home values, education and access to quality retail establishments.
I am not prepared to say exactly what drove Dr Heatley to depart nor can I give the extent to which the sentiment was mutual (from the board and the permanent top administrative staff in the system). I do know that he attempted to obtain a leadership position at another school system out of state earlier this year but was passed over for another candidate.
I can say that the "rank & file" of the county need to step up and form a more effective engagement model with their chosen leadership. Something more than the ritual of showing up to legislative meetings (school board, county board or city council) when there is a public conflict at its peak must be replaced by a more permanent public regulation model that works to keep conflict within a certain moderate range, slightly above and below a "normal". A boring meeting in the context of a well regulated environment that has sufficient competence in its governing capabilities is far more appealing than is constant drama.
From The Article
MORROW, Ga -- Clayton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Edmond Heatley resigned from the position this afternoon.
The resignation is effective September 30, 2012. No reason was given for the resignation.
In a statement, the district said the board will appoint an interim superintendent "and begin the process of finding a new superintendent for the state's fifth largest school district."
"School has just begun and our primary focus will remain providing the students of Clayton County with a high quality education during this transition," said Board of Education Chair Pam Adamson in the statment. "We are grateful to Dr. Heatley for his service and wish him the best."
Heatley became superintendent of Clayton County Schools in 2009 during a tumultuous time for the district. It was on probation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). In 2008, the accrediting agrency took away the district's accreditation, citing interference from the school board involving allegations of misuse of funds, conflict of interest and abuse of power.
Before coming to Clayton County, Dr. Heatley served as the Superintendent of the Chino Valley Unified School District in California.
He went in the education field after retiring from the U.S. Marines