NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The first ever woman to lead the Norfolk public school system has resigned less than four years after accepting the position.
Dr. Melinda Boone’s announcement came after the Norfolk School Board was scheduled to go into closed session earlier Wednesday evening to discuss “Superintendents Annual Summative Evaluation.”
In her resignation letter, Boone touted her efforts to bring the school system together after continued turnover in leadership positions, allocate more resources for teachers and improve student achievement.
“I leave with the knowledge that major improvements and accomplishments have occurred. The wheels of progress can continue to turn and the foundation is there for continued success at NPS,” Boone said.
However, the Suffolk native has faced backlash since the beginning of her three-plus years at the helm of Norfolk schools, stemming in part from earlier scandals.
She had previously served as the Chief Academic Officer in Norfolk until 2009 before leaving amid a testing scandal, and also faced a testing controversy during a six-year term as superintendent in Massachusetts’ Worcester County school system.
She officially accepted the Norfolk superintendent role in October of 2015, despite two School Board members voting against her appointment.
Here’s Boone’s full resignation letter:
When I joined Norfolk Public Schools (NPS), the cornerstone of a proudly diverse community, as the first female superintendent, I was more than ecstatic for the opportunity to return to a district where I rose through the ranks and left for my first superintendency. It was truly a full circle moment. Since joining the district in 2015, I have worked to implement the #NPSRedesign initiative and the district’s Theory of Action.
Prior to my arrival at NPS, multiple leadership changes resulted in a great deal of uncertainty and instability. Employee morale was low; test scores and enrollment saw significant declines. As I assumed the helm, I worked to secure a turnaround partner that would assist with my number one goal — district-wide stabilization. Through that effort, incremental improvements began to happen. The instructional staff began to receive more supports that allowed them to be more effective in the classroom. In addition, the District Leadership Team (DLT) worked to ensure buy-in from the entire division. Because our focus was on the core tenets of leadership, literacy, rigor and innovation, we began to see improvement in student achievement. This certainly hasn’t been a one woman show, but it has been a true team effort with each and every employee embracing and owning the vision.
I leave with the knowledge that major improvements and accomplishments have occurred. The wheels of progress can continue to turn and the foundation is there for continued success at NPS.
10 On Your Side spoke with the President of the Norfolk Federation of Teachers. Thomas Calhoun says he is not shocked or surprised by Boone’s resignation, just extremely disappointed. He points to the school board’s treatment of Boone as the reason for her resignation.
“I watch how they talk to her, how they treat her, I’ve seen their disrespectful tones, I watched it for a year,” Calhoun said. “I think she has shown more loyalty and more respect for the staff of Norfolk Public Schools than any superintendent that’s been in there since I’ve been here.”
Calhoun says Norfolk doesn’t do a good job of keeping superintendents, which is hurting students and teachers. He said, “instability in leadership can be devastating in academic progress, instability in leadership is devastating on personnel.”
10 On Your Side reached out to the chair of the school board, but has not heard back. A spokeswoman for Norfolk Public Schools said she was unable to provide additional comment at this time.