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Published: Thursday, 8/12/2004

Sanders loses D.C. schools job as Rochester, N.Y., ex-chief is chosen

BY KAREN MACPHERSON AND SANDRA SVOBODA
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

Toledo Superintendent Eugene Sanders was passed over for the top job in the public school district in the nation's capital, learning of the decision yesterday from media reports instead of district officials.

The nine-member Washington board of education unanimously voted to offer the job to Clifford Janey, the former superintendent of the 35,000-student school district in Rochester, N.Y., who is now a vice president at Scholastic Inc., a New York-based educational publisher.

Board members noted that Mr. Janey's selection was supported by Mayor Anthony Williams and key members of the D.C. City Council, including Council President Linda Cropp and Kevin Chavous, chairman of the council's education committee. All three spoke highly of Mr. Janey at the news conference following the board's vote.

Board members said one of the main reasons they chose Mr. Janey was because of his record of improving student achievement. That has been a major issue in the D.C. public schools,

where student test scores are among the lowest in the nation.

At a news conference after the vote, Mr. Janey stressed that "there won't be a silver bullet in terms of a solution here." He also cautioned that D.C. educational officials can't expect improvement in student achievement without making changes in the current system.

"This work will not be done on the quick. But I am here and in it for the long haul," said Mr. Janey.

Asked why Mr. Janey was offered the job instead of Mr. Sanders, Board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz replied: "Given the dire situation in the schools, we felt that it would be a greater leap for Sanders than for Janey.

"But Sanders is a special guy. He's got a future ahead of him. If there was a way - if I were all-powerful - I would hire both of them," Ms. Cafritz added. "Toledo has lucked out with Sanders."

Ms. Cafritz added that she planned to call Mr. Sanders and talk with him personally about the board's decision. Asked when Mr. Sanders was told that he wasn't going to be offered the job, Ms. Cafritz said she thought he would have been called by school officials sometime yesterday afternoon.

Though Mr. Sanders said he was not contacted before media in Washington were reporting the selection of Mr. Janey, he remained gracious about the matter.

"I certainly appreciated being under consideration," Mr. Sanders said.

"It was an honor for me both personally and professionally and it was a wonderful opportunity to talk about the Toledo Public Schools with regard to our academic improvement and the reform activities that have occurred here."

But Larry Sykes, vice president of the Toledo board of education, said it was disappointing no officials in Washington called Mr. Sanders to notify him of the decision before they publicly - or privately - announced it.

"That's the politics of Washington," he said. "The way the district is run, it's no wonder that they're in no better condition than they are - disarray at the top."

Mr. Sanders said he was "doing OK" after learning of the decision. He emphasized his interest in the Washington job should not be interpreted as a desire to leave Toledo.

"I am certainly not in a job hunt at all. I can assure you of that. I'm certainly excited about the opening of the school year here in Toledo," he said.

Mr. Sanders, 47, was recruited for the Toledo position four years ago when he was a professor and chairman of the department of educational administration and supervision at Bowling Green State University.

A native of Sandusky and a former high school social studies teacher there, Mr. Sanders has a doctorate in education and has authored a book about urban education.

Eighteen months ago, he agreed to a contract extension until 2009 with Toledo Public Schools, which included a provision requiring him to have board permission to seek other positions. He sought and received that permission before interviewing for the Washington job.

He and Mr. Janey were among the seven candidates the 15-member search committee interviewed in Washington two weeks ago. Both were named among the four finalists at the time.

Mr. Janey was the only candidate recommended yesterday to the education board by the seven-member "Education Advisory Collaborative," an ad hoc group of Washington educational, political, and community leaders.

Ms. Cafritz said she expects Mr. Janey will be in the job when schools open in Washington on Sept. 1. She would not discuss the ongoing contract negotiations with Mr. Janey. Mr. Janey's contract in Rochester was terminated in May, 2001, over "some bad choices" in managing the district's budget, Rochester school board member Darryl Porter said.

"Apparently he wasn't that successful here or we wouldn't have terminated his contract," Mr. Porter said.

Blade Staff Writer Ignazio Messina contributed to this report.

Contact Karen MacPherson at:

kmacpherson@nationalpress.com

or 202-662-7070.



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