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The Office of the State Superintendent of Education has been getting a personnel overhaul this month, LL has learned. Several top deputies to Deborah Gist, who left the OSSE post for a state superintendent’s job in Rhode Island earlier this year, have resigned or been forced out in the past two weeks.
The moves come ahead of next week’s council confirmation hearing for Gist’s replacement, former federal education official Kerri L. Briggs (pictured).
“They’re cleaning house, getting rid of whole divisions,” one person familiar with the changes tells LL. Prior to her departure, Gist was said to be unhappy with efforts to move traditional state-level responsibilities for educational oversight out of her agency.
The departed employees, LL is told, include several folks who were hired by or close to Gist. They include: John Parham, deputy superintendent of business and support services;
Kevin Clinton, the agency’s chief financial officer; Khaled Falah, the chief information officer; Shanika Hope, assistant superintendent for school improvement; Gloria Benjamin, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction; Glenda Partee, formerly assistant superintendent of post secondary and workforce readiness. Also terminated were several members of the agency’s accountability and testing team, including William Caritj, who was widely recognized as the top expert in the city on interpreting student testing.
Said one employee fired last week, “They come very two weeks and take a whole bunch of people. They seem to be downsizing to a very tight K-12-focused state education agency.” The firings, by several accounts, have happened swiftly and without warning, with employees told to gather their belongings and leave within minutes.
Mayoral spokesperson Mafara Hobson would not provide an accounting of departed employees or any explanation for the personnel moves. “These are all simply personnel matters,” she writes in an e-mail.