A surprise firing and 2 suspensions mark ongoing shuffle of K12 leadership

Escambia County Public Schools Superintendent Tim Smith, described by a local newspaper as "embattled," will leave his post at the end of May.

The superintendent of a large Florida district has been fired with little to no warning and two other leaders have been suspended as a nationwide leadership shuffle shows no sign of slowing even as the school year winds down.

Tim Smith
Tim Smith (Photo: Escambia County Public Schools)

Escambia County Public Schools Superintendent Tim Smith, described by a local newspaper as “embattled,” will leave his post at the end of May after an unexpected vote by the district’s school board last week. The board member who led the charge in Smith’s dismissal criticized the superintendent’s leadership of principals and other administrators, which the board member said has caused high turnover, the Pensacola News Journal reported.

Smith’s most recent evaluation from the board was overwhelmingly positive, the News Journal added. Earlier this year, however, the area’s representative in the Florida state legislature called on Smith to resign, calling him ineffective and criticizing his decision to deny a school board member’s request to ban a group of LGBTQ-themed books from district libraries. The board eventually removed those books anyway and was sued last week by parents, authors and the nation’s largest publishing company.

Leadership shuffle suspensions

Districts in South Carolina and Michigan have suspended their superintendents within the last several days. The Colleton County School District’s board placed Superintendent Vallerie Cave on administrative leave by a 4-3 vote as it “investigates information,” Live 5 News reported. The board of the South Carolina school system has had Cave’s employment on its agenda since last summer, the station added.

In Michigan, Dearborn Heights School District #7 has suspended Superintendent Tyrone Weeks, another leader who has been described as “embattled” by local media. The board has not explained the decision but Weeks has faced protests recently over the suspension of a popular high school principal and the creation of a virtual learning program without teacher input, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Veterans find new districts

Several superintendents are switching places, including Joseph Hochreiter, who has been named the next superintendent of The City School District of Albany in New York after leading two other districts in the state, the Elmira City School District and the Hendrick Hudson Central School District since 2009. Outside New York City, Raymond Sanchez has been named superintendent of Public Schools of the Tarrytowns after having served the Ossining Union Free School District since 2013.

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In Mississippi, Superintendent Josh Perkins is moving to Neshoba County School District from the Enterprise School District. And in North Carolina, Marc Whichard will take the reins at Wayne County Public Schools after having led Whiteville City Schools since 2019.

More comings and goings



  • Greg Ross has resigned as superintendent of Danville Independent Schools (Kentucky) after one school year.
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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