St. Paul Schools drama: Silva is out, Thein is interim supe, O’Connell resigns

MinnPost photo by Tony Nelson
Once Valeria Silva’s abbreviated tenure ends on July 15, she’ll move into a full-time advisory role with the district for the next 15 months.

Two days after the newly appointed leader of Minneapolis Public Schools, Ed Graff, jumped through a logistical hoop to finalize his contract, news broke that his counterpart in St. Paul, Superintendent Valeria Silva, would be leaving her post early.

The power struggle in St. Paul between Silva and the new board majority elected last fall has played out in a fairly public manner. Despite this, Silva remained adamant that she intended to serve through the remainder of her contract, set to expire in December 2018. But settlement negotiations with the board, looking to buyout her contract, had apparently been going on for the past month or so.

At Tuesday’s meeting, which Silva did not attend, the school board voted 5-2 in favor of approving the separation agreement, with board members Chue Vue and Jean O’Connell dissenting. Once Silva’s abbreviated tenure ends on July 15, she’ll move into a full-time advisory role with the district for the next 15 months.

Since the board sought to terminate her contract without cause, she will collect roughly $787,500 in salary and benefits so long as she stays with the district as a consultant to help the interim superintendent — the retired superintendent of Roseville Area Schools, John Thein — during the transition period.

Board Chair Jon Schumacher maintained that the negotiations were amicable. In a press conference after the meeting, he said it’s no secret the district is facing some tough challenges related to racial inequities, the achievement gap, budget deficits and declining enrollment. So when Silva announced her plans to retire in 2018, they felt it made sense to usher in new leadership now, rather than wait.

“We accelerated the transition process so we could … bring in some fresh perspectives,” he said. “We believe that, in the long run, this will end up saving us money and allow us to get a jump on some of the challenges we’ve been facing.”

O’Connell, on the other hand, resigned yesterday evening, stating she doesn’t agree with the narrative this board has crafted — that the district is failing — and can no longer be part of a board environment that has become “so disrespectful, destructive and cynical.”

How’d we get to this point?

Silva’s track record with the district goes back nearly 30 years. She started out as a teaching assistant and worked her way through the ranks, becoming superintendent in December 2009. While she’s leaving just six months into her current 3-year contract, Silva, 54, has outlasted the majority of her peers across the nation, who average less than four years on the job.

A little over a year ago, she considered leaving the district for a similar position in Florida. But shortly after the Palm Beach County School Board announced Silva was a frontrunner in its superintendent search, she decided to withdraw her name before interviewing.  

At that point, she reaffirmed her commitment to seeing through some of the equity work she had already put into motion in St. Paul — namely, integrating special-education students into regular classrooms and reducing suspension rates that were disproportionately impacting students of color.

Critics claim the district didn’t invest in the necessary support resources, like behavior specialists and professional development trainings, needed to ensure a safe, smooth transition.

The St. Paul DFL Party and teachers union capitalized on this discontent, channeling educators’ and parents’ frustration into an effective anti-Silva platform during the school board election last fall. This tension came to a head at the first board meeting in January, when the four new board members unexpectedly presented a list of priorities that began with improving school safety. Caught off guard, Silva asserted that she shared the same goals and efforts were already under way to address these concerns. However, a wave of student-on-teacher assaults inside schools continued to fuel the discord.

Add the stress of deep budget cuts  — resulting from a $15.1 million deficit for the coming school year — and declining enrollment to this increasingly fractured leadership dynamic and something was bound to give.

Termination without cause

Schumacher told members of the press that he did not join the board with the intent to oust Silva. Rather, he says, it “was a course of action that presented itself” during the ongoing conversations that had been taking place.

Board member Steve Marchese was a bit more candid in his remarks about the politicized nature of the decision to replace the superintendent. During the meeting, he suggested that he, along with the other newly elected board members, were essentially cleaning up a mess that the prior board had created.

“I believe we were placed at a disadvantage … when the prior board chose to extend [Silva’s] contract,” he said, noting he has great respect for her equity work, which he intends to continue.

In rebuttal, Vue defended the decision he and O’Connell, along with other prior board members, had made to keep Silva on board just 15 months ago.

“We were not born yesterday,” he said. “We all have different of opinions. I think to say that the board put this new board in an uncomfortable position … is a disrespect to the prior board. It was our job at the time to make that decision.”

Interim Superintendent John Thein
MinnPost photo by Erin Hinrichs
Interim Superintendent John Thein speaking at a Wednesday morning press conference.

Feelings aside, the move to replace Silva is going to cost the already-financially-strapped district a substantial amount of money.

The bulk of Silva’s $787,500 is made up of her salary (roughly half of the amount she would have earned working through Dec. 2018), 18 weeks of accrued vacation time, and health insurance and pension until retirement, as negotiated in her prior contract. She’ll also receive $100,000 in severance pay.

As stipulated in the agreement, if Silva accepts a job offer elsewhere, she will no longer be entitled to the full amount.

On top of that, the district will be paying its interim superintendent, Thein, an annual salary of $202,500.  

The board has yet to announce the details of the superintendent search process, which will yield logistical expenses that, as exhibited in Minneapolis, may include hiring a search firm, hiring a community engagement facilitator, conducting site visits for finalists or any other number of measures to vet candidates. Of course, once a new superintendent has been selected, the district will need to absorb the added cost of their salary as well.

‘Questionable governance’

The need for the district to hold a special election to fill O’Connell’s seat could also be tallied up as a related expense. O’Connell had served as a board member since 2009. Her resignation goes into effect June 30.

While delivering her prepared remarks, O’Connell listed a number of accomplishments the district achieved under Silva’s leadership: a record number of students enrolled in Pre-K this year, increased parent involvement, increased graduation rates since 2010, iPad access for each child and system-wide strides toward racial equity.

Jean O’Connell
MinnPost photo by Erin Hinrichs
Jean O’Connell

After expressing her frustration with the narrative of district failure that’s taken hold in recent months and fractured community relations, she accused Schumacher and Marchese of violating the state’s open meeting law.

“I am personally taken aback by the way the current chair and treasurer of this board have worked in secret and frozen other members of this board out of major issues, up to and including the decision to buy out the superintendent’s contract. Not only is this questionable governance, it is terrible leadership,” she said.

Asked to comment after the meeting, Schumacher denied the allegations and chalked the accusation up to hurt feelings. “I think it’s a very emotional time,” he said.

Despite the rift over the decision to part ways with Silva, most everyone agreed that Thein is qualified to serve the district in the interim.

“He has worked with our current superintendent, so there’s a relationship there,” Schumacher said. “He’s a very solid, calm, intelligent guy that I think is really going to help us get through this transition.”

Comments (28)

  1. Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/22/2016 - 10:13 am.

    Good riddance

    And good riddance to O’Connell too.

  2. Submitted by AJ Lawson on 06/22/2016 - 10:49 am.

    Same Old Story

    Sadly what this proves is that if you have the courage to address racial inequity in our schools then you will be fired. See Eden Prairie for another example. Meanwhile, the system gets what it is designed to get and Behold: a White Male Supe rides in to rescue us all. Sickening and predictable.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/22/2016 - 11:15 am.

      Not the same old story

      Silva got fired not because she addressed racial equity, but because of the way she did it. It’s about incompetence, not courage.

      Her “adressing” racial equity was largely eliminating discipline of disruptive and violent students, which resulted in chaos and physical harm to students and staff. It has created a poisonous atmosphere in our schools.

      As a parent of a SPPS student I am celebrating today, as are the other parents and teachers I know.

      • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 06/22/2016 - 03:02 pm.

        And

        I’m neutral on this however neither Mr Terry, nor the entities organized against her (DFL, Police Union, Teachers Union) have provided one whit of evidence to prove such. All we’ve seen teachers and others vested in union regulars parleying statements that seem overly dramatic statements for shock effect.

        I suspect the DFL and the Teachers Union are not going to improve schools one bit. What a waste of a million dollars.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/23/2016 - 10:03 am.

          Wow

          You must not have read a newspaper in the last five years to say there is no evidence of this

          I may be a little closer to the issue because I have a child in SPPS. I’m used to my child telling me that kids in his class hit other kids or, in a few cases, hit teachers, and then get returned to class after a few minutes and that only the teacher gets reprimanded for sending kids out. The cases where teachers get choked or sucker punched on video are the ones that make the news, but the failure to discipline violent and disruptive kids has created a poisonous atmosphere.

          If you are someone who likes to bash teachers and their unions, then I guess you can write this off as drama and shock effects. But you might think differently if your kids were subjected to it.

          • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 06/23/2016 - 03:49 pm.

            Huh ?

            Union led “horror” stories aren’t a substitute for statistical/scientific evidence. Neither you nor any of the organized Union entities have proven a wit of evidence. It kinda proves my suspicion that this program wasn’t given a chance in hell to succeed. Rather the organized entities lined up their “horror” stories and ran Ms. Silva outta town.

            The school administration has clearly stated that physical violence was a cause for suspension. So you’re basically inventing facts here regarding failure to discipline violent kids.

            Good to know that you have a kid in a diverse school. I had mine too. However that doesn’t give neither you, nor me, any greater wisdom nor veto nor moral high ground of how to run a school.

            I didn’t bash a teacher or a union, but rather i asked for evidence. And none was provided. What does that tell me about the validity of your claims ?

            • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/27/2016 - 12:58 pm.

              Union led horror stories

              The school administration has indeed stated that they will not tolerate physical violence. The reality, however, is that under Silva, violence is tolerated.

              Before the suspension policy changed, why do you think kids were getting suspended? It wasn’t for chewing gum in class. Now hitting another student or teacher gets you a brief time out. I hear this from my child. I hear it from my teacher friends, who face retribution if the complain. I hear it from other parents.

              That evidence may not be good enough for someone who calls the problems in SPPS “union led horror stories” but as a concerned parent, I have seen more than enough to know that Silva needed to be removed.

              • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 06/28/2016 - 06:28 am.

                Union led horror fiction

                The union and its supporters are using shady language to pretend that open violence did not lead to suspension. That is a totally false assertion, but they would like to leave that impression out there.

                The SPSS under Ms. Silva made it absolutely clear that violence would lead to suspension. But what you see here is a deliberate effort to shade that fact and pretend that actual physical violence was actually ignored. THAT IS FALSE.

                If you’re a parent, just like i was, is a good talking point. However that does not give a pass on actual facts.

      • Submitted by Bill Kahn on 06/22/2016 - 03:14 pm.

        To be fair, St. Paul is a hotbed of racism and you have to go out to the most racially homogeneous areas of the state and country to rival this city’s levels of intolerance for all sorts of folks; I observed it driving cab there for years. I had a dose of it shopping off the Green Line in the Midway from a denizen yammering something about white power there just yesterday. It is a racist and intolerant place, period, and it is not limited to the poor who display it more obvious ways. That’s hard to change, but something with which the schools can help as the problem folks grow old and die and our youth carry on with better examples, often at school.

        To be realistic, there are few ways to successfully address racial equity in the schools that will not sabotage both security and academic success as a whole in our schools; it was a fool’s errand that we cannot afford and the new board is right to want a new direction and better leadership.

        What has to happen first is to direct students to the kind of education that they need and that means investments in the staff who can make these determinations with direct student and parent contact in their schools and homes. Parental involvement is fine when and if it can do any good, but sometimes that’s the problem in the first place; sometimes the family is where the fix is needed. Choice is fine, but let it be well informed by professional counselors.

        In a significant number of families, we are talking many generations of failure that are beyond the capability of any PK-12 school district program to remedy; it requires working with families to reach a new and better potential for everyone of any race (approach like this can help: http://www.learningdreams.org ). Remedy requires many more agencies than the schools, schools that should concentrate on education and safety, both interdependent for success.

        There are plenty of success stories out there and they must be built on, not destroyed through mindless abandon of reason and common sense trying to make our schools do things they can never successfully do.

        Second, district administration should be greatly limited, and as Silva proved, superintendents have limited utility unless they concentrate on success of each student in every classroom, not some bogus approach to racial equity. What we need, what we have always needed, is a solid and effective staff and faculty dealing with students in school and the administration to support them instead of hobbling them and limiting their resources just by taking up space and lines in the budget.

    • Submitted by Sam Keats on 06/27/2016 - 02:11 pm.

      Silva’s approach to Special Ed– the opposite of racial equity

      The fall of 2013, when Silva dumped Special Ed and ELL into the classroom, we immediately began to see catastrophes in the classroom. (i volunteer.) African-American parents requesting supports for their children were turned away, “Because we have to lower our special Ed rates for black boys,” (or black girls.) That bias in providing resources continues to this day. Here. from a pioneer press article, Nov. 7, 2013, quotes from the National Alliance for Mental Health, (NAMI)-Minn, from Pacer, and from Teacher’s union officials. I, personally, would stop by teacher’s rooms on the way to the room where I volunteered, and tell them to hold on, that we (parents, the union, NAMI and PACER) would get their students the help they needed. It was an appalling act of racism and the response was near-unanimous.

      Here are quotes from a Nov. 7th 2013 article. Pioneer Press article Nov. 7, 2013: “At some schools, regular education teachers did not get a heads-up about the shift, [Mary Cathryn] Ricker said. Many worried they didn’t have the training and experience to meet the specialized needs of those students.
      “Our teachers and education support professionals spent most of September scrambling to figure out how to meet the needs of the entire classroom,” Ricker said.

      “Ian Keith, a former union president, said he questions why the school board did not have an extensive discussion about such a major change and the district did not introduce it on a smaller scale.

      “Advocates for students with disabilities in turn wonder if the district fully explained the changes to parents.

      “Sue Abderholden, the National Alliance on Mental Illness executive director in Minnesota, said the organization strongly supports efforts to allow EBD students to spend more time with peers.

      “However, she said the alliance believes in easing in students gradually and with the understanding that some kids do better in smaller, more supportive settings.

      “Starting all of a school’s EBD students in mainstream classrooms and revising their individualized plans to fit that approach strikes her as a “gross violation” of the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.

      “NAMI recently hosted a meeting with St. Paul district officials and about 30 parents to discuss the changes.

      “Minneapolis-based PACER has heard from St. Paul parents and special education teachers with concerns as well. The group is also a strong supporter of placing students with special needs in the least isolating environments.

      “But after inquiring about the changes with the district, advocates there still have questions about St. Paul’s approach. Some parents were consulted about individualized plan revisions over the telephone, a process only appropriate for minor changes, PACER said.

      “To make such a sweeping change without closely looking at the individual needs of students is outside the norm,” said Jody Manning, a PACER parent training coordinator.”

      In fact, only swift and concerted action from the Minn council for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing stopped Silva’s new practice of fully-mainstreaming profoundly deaf students, often without a translator. Even with a translator, a profoundly deaf-student is always about seven seconds behind what’s going on in the classroom, and it makes sense to give them some chances to catch the joke, be able to freely communicate with their peers, etc. But the practice of refusing special ed services to children of color continues and changing that is one of the tasks the board has taken on.

  3. Submitted by Charlie Quimby on 06/22/2016 - 01:04 pm.

    Leadership?

    I think it’s telling that the chairman, when asked about a colleague’s claim that he violated the open meeting law, doesn’t address how the deal was negotiated and puts O’Connell down by attributing her objection to hurt feelings.

  4. Submitted by Lucille Wiecher on 06/22/2016 - 05:46 pm.

    What is needed.

    What SPPS is lacking is leadership by example.
    The School Board needs to work with the Superintendent and both listen to each other with the school board with the finial say.
    The Superintendent needs to work with her cabinet and encourage them to communicate truthfully not just be a brunch yes people.
    Her cabinet needs to work with the principals, support them and encourage communication.
    The principals need to work with the staff and parents. Open communications should be demanded and required.
    The staff and teachers need to work with the students. parents and administration. Open and kind communication is needed.

    Where SPPS failed was using intimidation to control communication which created an atmosphere o distrust.. You can not fix what you can not talk about.

    May the future be brighter for SPPS. Thank you new school board members.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/27/2016 - 12:36 pm.

      Distrust

      If teachers and principals were not on board with Silva’s program, they faced retribution. It wasn’t an SPPS problem, it was a problem with the superintendent. She needed to go.

  5. Submitted by Bruce Pomerantz on 06/22/2016 - 10:20 pm.

    A Lost Opportunity for an Orderly Leadership Transfer

    Ms. Silva indicated she would retire in December 2018. The Board could have taken two years to plan an orderly succession including searching and hiring her replacement while she was still superintendent. The new-hire would then ease into the position. Would having out-going and in-coming superintendents work collaboratively? Well, if they couldn’t, then the Board could have dismissed Ms. Silva without cause.. .

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/23/2016 - 09:50 am.

      Wrong

      As someone with a child in SPPS, I can’t afford to wait for an orderly transition. You don’t transition someone you are firing. Silva’s failed leadership required a re-build, not a transition. And they are keeping her on as a consultant.

      The with/without cause distinction is meaningless in this context. Firing someone for cause is a very high bar (theft, criminal behavior, Etc) that Silva did not reach.

  6. Submitted by Dennis Carlson on 06/25/2016 - 02:19 pm.

    Interim Superintendent

    John Thein is a great choice. He is well respected, experienced, wise, a very good listener, and an excellent manager of people. I just hope folks give him the chance to do the job he was hired to do. The task at hand is about communication, finding common ground, building consensus and compromise. It is not about confusion, conflict, and constant criticism.

    Large school districts are complicated entities. School boards are elected officials and therefore political in nature. Superintendents are highly trained professional staff prepared to lead and manage these large, complex systems. Both roles should be valued and respected. The first order of business will to build trust – internally and externally. That is not an easy task and it will take time.

  7. Submitted by Joe Nathan on 06/25/2016 - 03:07 pm.

    Careful Pi Press analysis shows virtually no progress in SPPS

    This article is worth reading:
    http://www.twincities.com/2016/06/24/under-silvas-leadership-the-thinking-changed-but-not-the-results/

    Rhetoric about racial equity is not enough.

    Silva and the board she convinced to follow her lead spend hundreds of millions of dollars but accomplished virtually no progress in key areas of closing the achievement gap.

    And – the increase in graduation rates is in part because the state changed the law in 2013, so students no longer had to pass statewide reading or writing tests. SPPS officials at the time acknowledged that some students now were graduating who would not have graduated if they had to pass tests.

    Jean O’Connell, Keith Hardy, Ann Carroll and Mary Doran cost the district millions – with a final $787,000 talked on.

    • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 06/26/2016 - 08:04 am.

      Carefull Pi Press analysis shows

      that the metrics used in this analysis are a well known sham. So convenient for the Union and its supporters.

      Advance Courses – No change. At least Ms. SIlva didn’t stuff them into AP Psycology. A study of other school districts to show “minority advancement” shove them into AP Psych. A study of SAT Subject Test scores will further reveal this Advance Courses for minority success sham.

      Special Ed – The author and Mr Nathan side step the issue as to why African American kids were shoved in such large numbers into Special Ed ? Was Ms Silva onto something when she stopped this practice. Of course you won’t hear a peep from the author about this sham. She rattled the status quo and looked out for African American kids who were being shoved into Special Ed.

      Gifted Classes – No change. In a city where poverty increased dramatically. That ain’t bad. As if there was a roaring success when others ran the schools.

      Suspension, Wider Gap – Well she removed a whole category of actions for which there are suspension. Of course then, the suspension ration is going to be ballooned at the edges.

      Mr Nathan improve his credibility if he can point to a single minority school district in the State that has serious improvement parameters in the very areas that this article highlights. If there are none, then we know that Ms. Silva was basically railroaded.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/27/2016 - 12:43 pm.

        Missing the point

        Silva didn’t get fired because of the lack of improvement. Rather, it was the claim that she had successfully addressed the achievement gap that was the reason for keeping her. That claim doesn’t hold up.

        • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 06/27/2016 - 02:13 pm.

          And the goal posts and excuses keep changing.

          I would like to see a single link to a single article where Ms. Silva claimed “she successfully addressed the achievement gap “. A Single article would suffice.

          The response (or lack of it) will prove my assertion that Ms. Silva was basically railroaded and the union and its buddies are making up a bunch of “horror” stories to justify a waste of a million dollars.

      • Submitted by Joe Nathan on 06/30/2016 - 08:50 pm.

        Growing numbers of students of color leaving SPPS

        You wrote that you were a parent in SPPS. Does that mean you had one or more students in SPPS, but now you don’t?

        I ask because MDE statistics we cited in the Star Tribune show an increase in the last five years of students living in St Paul but attending other public schools, district or charter. 2/3 of them are students of color and students from low income families. That increase was from about 9,100 in 2009-10 to 13,400 in 2015-16. The district has not denied this.

        You asked for schools that have increased number of students of color participating in advanced (dual credit classes). Fair enough:
        Six schools with which our Center worked had more than 300% increase in students participating in dual credit – and more than 80% of them did well enough to earn college credit. The vast majority were low income and students of color. This was a mixture of district and charter. We urged the district to use these strategies with other schools. Silence.
        http://www.startribune.com/dual-credit-courses-proving-popular-in-st-paul/286248171/

        Re special ed – people asked repeatedly for evidence that moving students into mainstream classes was improving their achievement. The district provided no evidence (one of many areas where the district provided no evidence).

  8. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 06/26/2016 - 08:07 am.

    Almost every school district in the State

    missed their education targets. But if you listen to Pat Terry, Joseph Nathan and the Teachers Union it was ONLY Ms Silva who failed.

    http://www.startribune.com/minnesota-achools-not-closing-education-gaps-new-state-report-shows/368987671/

    Again, show us a single school district where there has been success.

  9. Submitted by kay kessel on 06/27/2016 - 10:24 am.

    Supt Silva vs Interim Supt. Thein vs School Board members

    This is disastrous for the City of St. Paul to remove your Superintendent who has worked with your teachers and leaders and school board to improve student achievement like very few other Superintendents in the country. Ramsey County had a system called Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative and so students at risk were given mental health, and other supports rather than being incarcerated. That takes teaming with the school district, the county commissioners, the police, and the social service systems and legislators.

    There has been pressure from many groups including Black Lives Matter and Isaiah to reduce and eliminate suspensions for students of color. Supt. Silva and her Administrators acquiesced to this pressure but all the support personnel in schools including Social Workers, Counselors, chemical dependency counselors, nurses, psychologists have been reduced since 2002 under Governor Pawlenty. I was an Asst. Principal in the Mpls Public Schools and retired in 2002. I gave suspensions but we were able to refer our kids at risk to our safety network that also included the school clinics. Minnesota is 50th in the country with counselor/student ratios. Our legislature, especially the house has underfunded education, has not supported early childhood or even had many legislators of color in the Senate or House and they make punishing decisions about districts like Mpls or St. Paul with 70% students of color, more than half on free and reduced lunch, and they blame the Superintendents, the administrators, the teachers for the lack of student achievement.

    Supt.Thein is very respected for keeping his schools safe and orderly. He was not able to improve the academic achievement for his students of color. That was stated in an article about his retirement.

    The School Board members should have honored their Supt. and worked with the team and the individual school administrators and their support staff including the school liaison officers to have kept their students and staff safe along with increasing their student achievement.

    Like Brexit, I hope that your school board has buyers’ remorse.

    Kay Kessel
    Retired MPS Assistant Principal

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/27/2016 - 12:24 pm.

      No buyers remorse

      I spent some time with some teacher friends this weekend, and their feeling is one of not so much of celebration, but of overwhelming relief.

      Silva didn’t work with teachers -she dictated to them, and punished them when they tried to point out her failures. It was a poisonous relationship.

      Brexit might be a mistake. Firing this superintendent most certainly was not.

    • Submitted by Joe Nathan on 06/30/2016 - 08:38 pm.

      Myths

      Many questionable assertions in this comment and this column. Here are a few:

      1. (Silva’s removal) “is disastrous for the city of St Paul.” Actually, what’s disastrous was the Silva administration. Silva set a goal of increasing enrollment by 5,000. Then, when it did not happen, she denied it. Fortunately Tony Lonetree of the Star Tribune pointed out she had said it and explained when and where.
      http://www.startribune.com/st-paul-school-board-member-teaches-a-lesson/289515131/

      2. Silva’s horrible implementation of “equity’ helped convince thousand of St. Paul students to attend either other district or charter public schools. The number of such students increased from about 9,000 in 2009-10 to about 13,400 in 2015-16 according to Mn Dept of Ed. 2/3 of those going elsewhere were students from low income families and families of color.

      3. “School board should have honored the superintendent” Why? For driving families out? For not contacting teachers when they were assaulted by students? For suggesting $7 million in cuts to schools this spring and about $400,000 in cuts to district administration – which was mostly one (overpaid) administrator who was retiring.

      School board made the right move to remove Silva. It will take years to fully deal with the messes that Silva and her team made. But the school board wisely rejected Silva’s initial recommendations for huge cuts to schools and retaining all her central office, highly ineffective team. When Silva relentlessly attacked the idea of more money to schools (and blamed everyone but herself) for budget problems, the majority of the board had enough.

  10. Submitted by Sam Keats on 06/27/2016 - 02:21 pm.

    So relieved to have her gone, and O’Connell, too.

    We moved to St. Paul because of its wonderful school system and watched Silva dismantle it. Any advances Silva made toward racial equality were all on paper. In fact, she followed Eli Broad’s playbook–trumpet Racial Equity while dismantling a school district.

    If you are concerned about African-American special ed rates, dumping nine kids with emotional behavioral problems into one classroom without prep, adjustment time or supports is not the solution. Nor is focusing on African-american students while Asian students are freaking out, asking their parents to pull them from schools where they no longer feel safe. If you are concerned about racial equity, you don’t turn away parents of color when they ask for help with a struggling child. You don’t create a system where that white child in kindergarten will get help now and that black child will have to wait until fifth grade–this is what happened under Silva.

    As to the Juvenile Detention Alternative system, it’s insane to put a child into juvenile detention because of anxiety-based school refusal when you could first support the kid into challenging their anxiety and getting them into school, but under Silva, principals refused to identify kids unless their parents paid the thousands of dollars and waited the possible 2 years to get their children assessed. There were celebrations across this city when we heard she was out.

    • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 06/27/2016 - 06:26 pm.

      A nice essay….

      Except for the blatant misrepresentations……

      Any child’s parent can demand a Special Ed evaluation. That is FEDERAL LAW. If such a basic point now being peddled by the Union and its supporters is false, what does that tell you about the entire “horror” stories about Ms. Silva.

      I have no idea whether Ms. Silva’s ideas would’ve worked or not. But one thing for sure, she was run out of town (with a million dollars) without any objective evaluation.

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