Detroit, Education — September 8, 2014 at 9:00 am

BREAKING: EAA Board to interview two fired superintendents to lead the Education Achievement Authority


This post has been updated to add details regarding the reason Timothy Chargois was fired as superintendent of Beaumont ISD in Texas.

When John Covington was hired to head up the Education Achievement Authority – Governor Rick Snyder’s failed education experiment on Detroit kids – he left behind a failed school district in Kansas City. Some Kansas City school board members claimed that Covington, the district’s superintendent at the time, had faked a conflict with the board president in order to renege on his contract. Shortly after he left, Kansas City Public Schools lost their accreditation.

With Covington now gone, resigned in disgrace from the EAA after poor performance of students in the “District for Misfit Schools” and lavish overspending by school administrators, EAA administrators are looking for a new leader. Today, in a meeting that was just announced late last week, the EAA Board will interview four candidates. It’s worth noting that this meeting has clearly been known for some time since at least one of the candidates is coming in from out of state. The decision not to announce the meeting until the 11th hour smacks of the EAA Board trying to fly under the radar with the least amount of public scrutiny possible.

One of the candidates being interviewed is current interim EAA Chancellor Veronica Conforme who was in charge when the EAA sent out deceptive letters to parents in other school districts inaccurately informing them that their students had been “assigned” to EAA schools in an effort to poach students and increase their enrollment numbers.

Two of the other candidates who are listed in the meeting announcement released last Friday carry on the EAA’s tradition of bringing in “leaders” who left previous jobs in disgrace.

First, there’s Timothy Chargois, listed on the announcement as “Currently serving as Superintendent of Schools for Beaumont ISD, located in Beaumont, Texas”. This is actually not a true characterization of Chargois. He was, in fact, fired from Beamont ISD in July. Like Covington, he was allowed to resign and given a $50,000 severance package after audaciously asking for almost $245,000. Chargois oversaw a $25 million deficit that is resulting in massive layoffs. The BISD was also forced to return $1.5 million to the state after it was found to have overstated its attendance numbers.

Second, there’s T.C. Wallace. Wallace was fired from as superintendent of Lansing Public Schools in February of 2012. He was put on administrative leave in March of that year which lasted through the end of his contract on June 30, 2012. Wallace was fired after it was learned he was applying for other jobs and had brought in new administrators without the approval of the Board:

In Lansing, the school board hired Wallace in 2007, gave him favorable reviews for several years and renewed his contract through June 2012.

However, he developed a contentious relationship with some members of the board after they said he exceeded his authority in signing contracts with seven key administrators rather than bringing them to the board. The divided board eventually laid off several of those administrators.

And so it appears that the EAA Board is continuing its tradition of bringing in failed education administrators from other school districts to head up the most challenged schoos district in our state.

While nearly everyone agrees that “something must be done” to improve education outcomes in Detroit, it’s difficult to see how bringing in “leaders” who were fired from other school districts amounts to “something” better.

Kids in EAA schools deserve so much better than this. One wonders when they are going to get the attention and the care and the leadership and the resources that they deserve.

For shame.

You can watch a livestream of the EAA Board meeting where the interviews will take place, starting at 10:00 a.m. this morning at Unfortunately, there is no further information about the candidates posted for public view by the EAA Board. Again, that, combined with the last minute meeting announcement, the scheduling of the meeting for the first thing in the morning on a Monday after the announcement, and the lack of a public announcement in the newspapers make it clear that public input and scrutiny is the LAST thing the EAA Board wants.

UPDATED: I’m watching the livestream of the interviews and note that there are no less than THREE typos on the livestream page:

It’s the “Education” Achievement Authority, not the “Educational” Achievement Authority. One of the Board members called it this, too. In fact, Gov. Snyder did twice during his statewide call-in show last Friday. If this was so important to them, you’d think that they’d at least get the damn name right. The other two typos just show how sloppy these people are. It’s an apt metaphor, in my opinion.

[Hat tip to Professor Thomas Pedroni who alerted me to this fiasco.]