June 10, 2008

Breaking News: Dr. Pulliam withdraws application for Unified superintendent

Dr. Pulliam at Golden Rondelle forum in April

Final, final update: The J-S reports the telling detail about Pulliam's decision. The Georgia district -- with just 2,100 students, one-tenth the size of Unified -- is paying her $155,000. Racine Unified started negotiations at $120,000. Could that be why the district is having a hard time attracting candidates? Here's how her hiring was announced in Georgia.

Final Update:
The Greene County Board of Education voted unanimously tonight in Greenesboro, GA, to hire Barbara Pulliam as its superintendent, thus snatching her from the Racine Unified School District, whose board made a similar vote in April. She will be joining a district in turmoil, one that fired its superintendent last Wednesday, one year into a three-year contract, in a dispute over a plan to implement gender-separate classes.

She starts work there Monday.

According to a story on OnlineAthens, she interviewed with the board the same night it decided to fire Shawn McCollough last week.

Unified has been negotiating a contract with Pulliam since selecting her from a field of three finalists on April 29.

Not everyone in Greensboro is happy to have Pulliam. A Georgia state legislator, familiar with her previous district in Clayton, GA, "the worst school district in the South," he said, was quoted by the owner of the Greensboro newspaper in the Journal Times, saying: "If the captain of the Titanic had survived, and got another ship, would you like to be a passenger on his next voyage?"

And let us be the first to ask out loud: Does this mean we get our $37,000 back from PROACT Inc., the executive search firm that produced our superintendent candidates? Or just a discount on the next search?

Update: Here's an official statement from Tony Baumgardt:
The Racine Unified school board was notified last night, before its closed door session, by a phone call from Dr. Barbara Pulliam's attorney that she was withdrawing her application for the Superintendent position. The Board had every indication from Dr. Pulliam that she was coming to Racine, and her attorney did not give any reason for her withdrawal. The Board is surprised and disappointed that she will not be our next Superintendent.

The district will proceed immediately with a new search for a superintendent. Dr. Jack Parker, who has served as interim superintendent, will continue to provide leadership at least throughout the summer allowing the board time develop a plan for its next steps. We will keep the staff and community apprised of the process and the progress of the search for a new leader for the district.
Original post: Barbara Pulliam will not be Racine Unified School District's next superintendent. Pulliam withdrew her name for the job, according to an email sent to Unified teachers on Tuesday. She and the board had been negotiating a contract for more than a month, and she had been expected to start work here on July 1.

The school board was notified last night, before its closed door session, by a phone call from Pulliam's attorney.

Unified School Board President Tony Baumgardt said in an interview on WRJN this morning: "Every indication that we had from Dr. Pulliam was that she was coming to Racine. Something's happened and we honestly don't know what it is.

"Basically, the message we got from her attorney is that she's not in a position to call us. I don't know how to read into that. I really don't. I'm unsure.

"I'm actually very surprised and disappointed that she won't be coming to be our superintendent."

(Update: The Journal Times this afternoon quoted her attorney saying she found another superintendent's job that she prefers. “She simply found another offer a better fit for her and she took it,” said Joe Flynn, who represented Pulliam in her negotiations with Unified. “It’s unfortunate, but it is not unusual.”)

Baumgardt indicated the district probably would have to proceed with another interim superintendent. Dr. Jack Parker, who has served as interim superintendent since Dr. Tom Hicks' resignation last fall has said he is not interested in staying on longer. His contract ends June 30.

Pulliam was selected by the Racine Unified School Board to replace Hicks, who resigned under fire for his handling of district finances. The board voted 7-2 on April 29 to hire Pulliam. Dennis Wiser and Julie McKenna voted against her.

Pulliam, the former superintendent of Clayton County Public Schools in Jonesboro, Ga., was one of three finalists for the job. She never reached a contract with the School Board.

Pulliam did not return multiple calls to her cell phone Tuesday morning.

Past stories:

Pulliam's successor making $285,000

Statement by RUSD on hiring Pulliam

Wiser, McKenna: Why we voted 'no'

Grading Unified's superintendent finalists


  1. Thank God we have a newspaper in this town! The Journal Times might have reported this sometime in 09.

  2. What are they going to do with that "The Journey Begins" banner they had her photographed under? Use it for the next candidate?