The Seattle School Board unanimously voted to dismiss Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Charleston County's former schools chief, late Wednesday night amid a financial scandal.
According to The Seattle Times, the board also dismissed Don Kennedy, Goodloe-Johnson's hand-picked chief financial and operations officer, also a former Charleston County administrator. In the same 6-1 vote, the board appointed Susan Enfield, the district's chief academic officer, as interim superintendent.
Goodloe-Johnson, who was hired in 2007, will be paid a severance package of $264,000 -- a year's base salary -- plus an estimated $9,800 in benefits.
Kennedy would receive $87,500 in salary -- half his annual base pay -- and about $4,900 in benefits.
Hundreds of people packed the meeting room at the district's headquarters, with speakers denouncing the district for misspending public funds and losing the trust of parents and others.
Neither Goodloe-Johnson nor Kennedy have been directly implicated in a state Auditor's Office report released last week that detailed corrupt activity in the district's small-business contracting program. But an outside attorney hired by the district to review management's actions concluded that both knew enough about those problems that they should have acted.
The audit found that lucrative contracts awarded through the program provided little or no public benefit. About $280,000 of the expenditures were considered losses and another $1.5 million was considered questionable use of public funds.
Silas W. Potter Jr., the former midlevel manager at the center of the scandal, told The Seattle Times that he is being made a scapegoat.
"I've been thrown under the bus," Potter said in his first interview in Tampa, Fla., where he's lived since October after resigning his district job in June. Potter denied being behind the misappropriation of district funds, which also has triggered a criminal investigation.
He said blame lies with two people above him, who demanded that he give school contracts, without bidding, to African-American businesses.
In August 2003, Charleston County School Board members unanimously chose Goodloe-Johnson to become superintendent, the first black and first woman to fill that role in the district.
Six months later. she unveiled her Charleston Plan for Excellence, a six-year plan to make the district the best in the state. A year later she announced her plan to reconstitute Rivers and Brentwood middle schools, both of which had failed for years, and to improve them by using the A-Plus program.
Her tenure was not without criticism, which frequently is the case in that position. She left behind failing schools and some even threatened with a state takeover. Still, SAT scores improved and the number of traditionally underachieving schools closing the gap rose from eight to 20 in the last two years before she left to become superintendent in Seattle.
Kennedy, the district's chief finance and administrative services, accepted a similar job in Seattle after Goodloe-Johnson's hiring.
• School chief finalist for Seattle job: Goodloe-Johnson's contract wasn't extended, expires in September 2008, published 4/4/2007• Goodloe-Johnson leaving: Tenure marked by success, controversy, published 4/13/2007• EDITORIAL: Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's legacy, published 4/15/2007