Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Joel D. Boyd has withdrawn as finalist for the job of Fort Worth school district superintendent.
In an email to trustees at 7 p.m. Saturday that was provided to the Star-Telegram, Boyd wrote: “ ... the Santa Fe community has helped me to realize that the timing is not right and that we need to continue forward and not lose momentum for the sake of our children.
“While it was a difficult decision, I respectfully withdraw my candidacy for the position of Superintendent of the Fort Worth Independent School District.”
Boyd has served since 2012 as superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools.
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Board President Norman Robbins expressed disappointment over Boyd’s decision to withdraw.
“I think Dr. Boyd could have taken our students to a level of accomplishment that we’ve not seen before and I was very much looking forward to working with him to do that,” Robbins said Saturday night. “Our students deserve an excellent education and that’s what we must provide. I felt that Dr. Boyd was in wonderful position to do that.”
Boyd’s decision to withdraw, in part, may have been fueled by a lack of board support.
Late Friday, the Star-Telegram reported that four trustees were having second thoughts about Boyd’s selection.
Trustee Ann Sutherland issued a statement shortly after the 5 p.m. deadline to file to run for school board saying she would oppose hiring Boyd because of criticism she has heard from Santa Fe teachers and residents.
“Unfortunately, our post-interview examination of Dr. Boyd’s tenure in Santa Fe reveals great tension between teachers and Dr. Boyd,” Sutherland wrote. “There have been many teacher resignations, including one of a nationally recognized teacher, as well as at least one major walkout by students in protest over his testing regimen.
“Anecdotal comments from the community also report that he has treated teachers with unusual disrespect,” Sutherland wrote.
Three other trustees told a reporter that they would also vote against Boyd. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because, they said, this is a personnel matter.
Robbins said that comments that were circulated about Boyd’s track record on student achievement and rapport with teachers amounted to “misinformation.”
“Dr. Boyd, I think, would have made some pretty significant changes in Fort Worth, and that, change, always makes people fearful,’’ Robbins said. “I think that fear drove people to do things to accept these misrepresentations as fact, and consequently, since we weren’t able to refute them, it did not (provide) good results.”
Interim Superintendent Pat Linares is expected to continue in her role, Robbins said. Linares has led the district since June.
“She said she would never leave us in the lurch and we all very much appreciate that,” Robbins said.
In weeks ahead, trustees “will discuss ... the best way forward in securing a new superintendent,” he said.
On Feb. 7, Fort Worth trustees voted 7-0 to name Boyd their sole finalist. Trustees Cinto Ramos and Judy Needham were absent.
Almost as quickly as Boyd was praised for his ability to improve student achievement, disapproval was voiced. Steven Poole, head of a local teachers group, said Boyd lacks experience in leading an urban school district the size of Fort Worth.
Santa Fe schools enroll about 13,000 students, compared with 86,000 in Fort Worth.
During the search, Robbins said, the district had more than 100 applicants from 43 states. Sixteen candidates were interviewed via teleconference, and the board met in person with seven semifinalists, he said.
Sutherland said there were four top candidates, including Boyd. One semifinalist took another job before final interviews in Fort Worth, she said. A second semifinalist dropped out after news leaked to his board that he interviewed in Fort Worth. And a third semifinalist was never called back for the final interviews, she said. That left the board with only one choice: Boyd.
Boyd was a standout, Robbins said.
“We feel very comfortable in [Boyd’s] abilities,” Robbins said at the Feb. 7 meeting.
Trustee Ashley Paz has said Boyd is top-notch.
“There’s no doubt in my mind they are bringing us the best superintendent in the U.S.,” she said Feb. 7.
In Santa Fe, Boyd earns $180,000 a year, with a benefits package that increases his compensation to well over $200,000, the Journal reported. Last year, he received a $9,000 pay increase and a contract extension through 2016-17.
In Fort Worth, Boyd would have been paid about $300,000 based on the district’s promotional material circulated when applicants were sought.
Yamil Berard, 817-390-7705