Richland 2 Superintendent Resigns

Dr. Katie Brochu

RICHLAND – At a hastily called meeting June 13, the Richland 2 School Board voted to accept the resignation of Superintendent Katie Brochu, naming Dr. Debbie Hamm, a long-time Richland 2 administrator as Interim Superintendent. There was no comment or discussion about the resignation from the Board or District staff during the meeting. While a prepared statement from the District expressed Brochu’s readiness to move into the ‘next chapter’ of her professional career, Brochu refused any comment or clarification as to what that ‘next chapter’ entailed.

Just hours prior to the meeting, Brochu e-mailed a letter to the District Office staff and school administrators, calling them “the best school district key leaders on the planet.” She continued, “I feel good about my decision and want the Richland Two community to know I believe the timing is right. It has been an honor and pleasure to serve as Superintendent of Richland School District Two. I am confident that through your leadership Richland Two will continue to partner with the community to prepare all students for success by providing meaningful, challenging and engaging learning experiences . . .”

The vote marked the end of the Brochu era at Richland 2 – a tumultuous three years marred by soaring professional development expenses (more than $3 million in three years for Schlechty training), unprecedented flight of experienced teachers and administrators to neighboring schools (more than 100 positions are currently open for the 2013-14 school year) and a 71-point drop in Richland 2 scores on national testing. Many parents and teachers in the District blamed the increasingly dismal report cards on Brochu’s strict adherence to the Schlechty model of education — the model Brochu had brought with her and integrated into Richland 2 from day one of her administration. Schlechty methods propose that only a complete, radical shift in the role of community members and school administrators toward guiding students to their passions will ignite a student to become interested in learning. Igniting a student’s curiosity is the goal of the Schlechty-trained teacher. Schlechty further postulates that this is accomplished by the teachers talking less and the students talking more. Very few measurements of student performance, however, have supported this model.

Yet, throughout her often controversial tenure, Brochu was not without her supporters in Richland 2. Some Board Members, including Chairman Bill Flemming, have remained staunch allies of Brochu’s programs, reluctant to the end to entertain concerns of many of the parents, teachers and the public.

“I was a supporter of her,” Flemming said last week. “I thought she brought the change and direction that we needed. I think she only had two years of basic results. I just think with three years you would have had a better picture. I would have liked her to stay. She decided she didn’t want to.”

Brochu’s resignation is effective July 1 (see Johnson’s column, page 5).

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