Christina Superintendent Freeman Williams Submits Retirement Letter

The on-leave Superintendent of the Christina School District, Freeman Williams, submitted a retirement letter to the district effective February, 2016.  In August, Williams went on a leave status which prompted the Christina Board of Education to hire an Acting Superintendent.  Former Red Clay Superintendent Bob Andrzejewski is the current Acting Superintendent, but Christina’s Board must now look for a new and permanent Superintendent.

The first time I met Freeman was 13 months ago at a special board meeting at Christina surrounding the priority schools.  I found him to be very cordial and respectful, and he was greatly concerned about the priority status designated to the three Christina schools.  I attended quite a few Christina board meetings in the next five months and watched them systematically and efficiently hold back the Delaware Department of Education and Governor Markell from making rash and hasty decisions over the Christina priority schools.

The last time I saw Freeman was at the Imagine Delaware Forum back in March.  I had a very pleasant discussion with him concerning House Bill 50 and parent opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which he supported.  Whatever his reason for retirement, I wish him the best and I hope he enjoys his time away from the crazy education environment we live in.

As Christina will assuredly attempt another referendum in 2016 amidst severe financial issues, the search will be on for a new Superintendent.  This district needs a very strong leader who can rally the people in favor of Christina.  While some think Christina may wind up in receivership by the end of the year, I would prefer to have hope.  The long-term impact of charters has definitely siphoned off a great deal of local funding due to many of the students in Christina’s feeder pattern choicing out to charters, and the emergence of so many new charters in Wilmington this school year alone has definitely had a negative effect.  Now is the time for Christina to strongly promote their strengths and eliminate their weaknesses.  What many don’t realize is Christina also holds the Delaware Autism Program and the Delaware School for the Deaf.  That could cause tremendous problems for the students involved if they have to transition out of the existing programs.

The Trials and Tribulations of the Christina School District & Board

As everyone surely knows by now, Christina Superintendent Dr. Freeman Williams has taken a leave of absence.  Many are speculating as to the reasons why, but frankly I don’t feel it is anyone’s business other than Freeman’s.  He is doing what he has to do and I will leave it at that.

But what happens next for Christina is anyone’s guess.  Their deputy superintendent, Dr. Fara Zimmerman, is retiring at the end of August.  So who will run Christina during Freeman’s absence?  Nobody knows at this point.  There was a posting for a deputy superintendent, but that posting has been pulled.  Sources say this was pulled by one member of the board without consulting other members of the board.  Once again, this is one of the individuals who seems to think making major unilateral decisions for the district is more important than discussing this with other members.

Next Tuesday, the board has their monthly meeting and I expect more than a few fireworks to go off.  Tensions have been building in this district from all ends, and with these latest two events, as well as the whole “agendagate” from last week, the allegation that two board members acted to try to get Christina investigated by the State Auditor, two referendums that didn’t pass, substantial layoffs, an essential referendum for next year, and the whole Wilmington redistricting thing which seems to be putting Christina into a corner, this is a district on the edge.

What this district needs is fresh blood that puts children first.  They need a strong, vocal, and very heavy in education experience leader.  Not a coach, or a captain.  They need a General!  Someone who will take charge with vast amounts of experience in these types of issues.  Someone who will get out to the community and rally the people.  If Christina falls, it’s only a matter of time before something like that spreads.  We all know Governor Jack wants to further his corporate education reform agendas and get more charters in Delaware.  If anyone his any misconception or illusion concerning this at this point, I can only say “Wake Up!”

Governor Markell is drunk with power, but he doesn’t realize yet how bad the hangover is going to be for him.  It’s never been students first, it’s always been Jack first.  For Christina School District, Jack has made them his punching bag for so long it isn’t even funny.  It never was.  This isn’t to say Christina doesn’t have issues.  But when you are the largest district in the state, serving some of the most vulnerable of children, and charters are taking away the best students, there are bound to be issues.  Christina needs to unify, and it’s now or never.  They need to get their board to act in unity and pick the best leader for their district.  I am rooting for them!