The speculation is flying around in a fury this morning, because of this email that DPS staff got today:
Dear Team DPS,
We would like to let you know that our superintendent, Tom Boasberg, is choosing to take unpaid family leave for six months beginning in January. After seven years as one of the country’s most successful superintendents, Tom will have the opportunity to spend half a year with his family, and resume his duties as superintendent in July.
We believe it is a sign of the health of our district that, with such a strong team and dedicated school board, we can grant this opportunity to Tom and his family. We have every confidence in the DPS leadership team and staff to continue to drive our work forward under our Denver Plan 2020 during these six months.
We will meet to name our acting superintendent right after Thanksgiving, on Tuesday, Dec. 1. We have discussed this matter in detail as a board and with Tom, and we believe it is right to allow our newly elected board to be sworn in next week and then formally address the matter Dec. 1.
At seven years, Tom is one of the longest-serving superintendents in any major U.S. city. That leadership continuity has been critical for our progress, and we look forward to his continued service when he returns in July.
In those seven years, DPS’ progress is clear:
- Enrollment is up by more than 15,000 students, evidence of our families’ belief in our schools.
- DPS students, who once lagged their classmates across Colorado, now show greater academic growth than their peers in every other large district in the state.
- An additional 1,000 students are graduating each year from our high schools, continuing on educational journeys that will lead them to far brighter futures.
This work has been driven not by one person but by the exceptional team at DPS, starting with our teachers and our school leaders. Yet, we know our work is far from finished. Our job during these six months and beyond is not to put our feet on the brake but on the gas pedal. We will not slow in our efforts to improve our schools for our families during this time. The needs of our kids are too urgent and our Denver Plan 2020 goals too important to pause this work. We ask that you join us in supporting Tom in this decision.
Thank you for the work you do every day on behalf of Denver’s kids.
Happy Haynes, President, Denver Board of Education
Anne Rowe, Vice President, Denver Board of Education
Tom Boasberg then sent out his own communiqué:
Dear Team DPS,
A short time ago, you received an email from school board President Happy Haynes and Vice President Anne Rowe about my plan to take unpaid family leave for the first half of 2016. I am excited for this opportunity to be with my family, grateful to the board for the opportunity to do so, fully confident in the DPS team’s ability to move full speed ahead in my absence and looking forward to coming back to serve as superintendent this summer.
We have an extraordinary group of dedicated educators in DPS and the privilege of serving amazing kids. I have been very grateful for the opportunity to work with our educators and serve our kids as superintendent these last seven years, and I am eager to continue to lead and to serve.
At the same time, my wife Carin and I have made a commitment to each other and to our family to spend this time together. When Carin and I met over two decades ago, we were both studying Chinese in Taiwan and we knew then that we wanted our kids to have the experience of living overseas. When our oldest daughter Nola was born and we came back to the U.S. after several years working in Hong Kong, we promised each other that at some point we would return with our kids to live overseas. And, when I started in DPS nine years ago and Nola was six, Ella was four and Calvin was two, we again promised each other that we would find a way to make this happen.
Nine years later, our children are 15, 13 and 11, and soon will be off to college and (at least they hope!) out of the house. In the DPS logo, the words that surround the iconic DPS lamp of learning read “Discover a World of Opportunity.” That is what we hope our 90,000 kids in all our DPS schools will discover. And, to discover a world of learning is what we hope for our three kids: to live and travel in Latin America for six months, to learn to speak Spanish well, to learn about different cultures and to spend a lot more time together as a family than I have been able to spend over these years as superintendent.
I am fully confident during these six months we will move forward full steam ahead in DPS with our teachers and school leaders, our DPS leadership team and our board. I am proud of the progress we have made together. And, while our progress has become a model for many other school districts nationally, we all know we have much further to go to achieve our goals of closing our opportunity gaps and ensuring Every Child Succeeds.
As eager as I am to spend these six months starting in January with my family, I am equally eager to return to the job in July and continue to push our mission forward. There is no work more important than this, the opportunity we share to improve the lives of more than 90,000 kids. And there is no team more dedicated, more passionate or more capable of making it happen.
I woke up this morning to a barrage of alarmed Facebook messages and emails, with speculation aplenty. I have to say that I find this all very interesting. Has Robert Speth’s near-upset of Happy Haynes scared the reformies so much that they got a wake-up call? I mean, when you think about it, after all the provisional and spoiled ballots are counted, it’s possible that she won by even fewer votes than less than 1 percent. That says that her longstanding political presence didn’t save her, and Boasberg could be dragging her down.
And I’m not exactly sure why you would need a search committee for an interim replacement for six months. Don’t they trust Boasberg’s team?
I gotta say, on a person-to-person level, I am cordial with Tom. He has always treated me with respect, and I do feel that at his core he believes in making things better for our kids. It’s just that he has subscribed to this failed corporate education reform. As a Yale graduate and son of D.C. insiders, Tom has been imbued with an elitism that impairs his ability to trust communities to make their own autonomous decisions. He actually does believe in “trickle-down economics,” in which the wealthy theoretically help the less affluent. It’s not personal between us, but I just know it doesn’t work that way.