Grosse Pointe Superintendent Speaks, as Parent, to Rochester Board

'You failed,' said Thomas Harwood, who was a candidate for the Rochester Schools superintendent position when Fred Clarke was hired last year.

The leader of Grosse Pointe Public Schools who interviewed last year for the Rochester superintendent job criticized Board of Education members this week for being "maverick and dismissive" in their search last year for a school leader.

"You failed," said Thomas Harwood repeatedly in his three minutes of public comment at the start of the board meeting Monday night. Harwood lives in Rochester Hills and said he was speaking to the board as a parent. 

Rochester Superintendent Fred Clarke listened quietly as Harwood addressed the board. Clarke announced . He has not resigned and did not respond to Harwood or say anything related to his job search on Monday night. 

Harwood said he did not "wish ill will toward Mr. Clarke." And though he was one of six finalists for the job last year, Harwood also noted that he is not interested in Clarke's job. 

"I have been blessed with the opportunity to be the superintendent of schools for the Grosse Pointe school system and I have no intention of seeking to leave the position at this time," he said.

Instead, he criticized board members for not doing their "due diligence" in listening to the needs of the community during the superintendent search.

"You became maverick and dismissive in your decision-making process without a true eye on the future needs of this educational community," he said.

"As Stephen Covey was quoted as saying, 'You can't talk yourself out of something you behaved yourself into.' 

"Your conduct during this defining moment of time did not meet the expectation that is placed before you with what is one of the two primary responsibilities that you have as elected members of the school board."

"Your role in this process is critical and needs to be considered at a higher level than what has been shown in the past. You failed to use a compass that you were given by this community to set sail on a journey that will continue on the success of this district."

Board members did not respond to Harwood's remarks. When Board President Jennifer Berwick thanked "Mr." Harwood for his comments, he corrected her, noting "Dr."

Harwood was the only member of the public to address the board about their inevitable superintendent search. 

Following the news of Clarke's job search last month, the to work with Clarke on a timeline for when he will finish up his duties in Rochester. The search firm that helped find Clarke has said it will help find Clarke's replacement at no charge.

Clarke was a finalist for a superintendent ; he was not hired for that job. 

the shadow August 15, 2012 at 04:10 PM
About time for Alex Freeman to concur...or only feeling bi-polar today Mike?
Ahmed Ismail August 15, 2012 at 11:59 PM
I think everyone in the Rochester school district needs to take a step back and ask themselves why Dr, Harwood made the comments he did objectively rather than looking for an some ulterior motive. From a career standpoint, having the commitment to putting students and the community first in a public forum could do nothing but hurt Dr. Harwood. After all, if you were a school board member at another school district that Dr. Harwood may interview with in the future, would you hire someone who is willing to take his career and put it out there because he is so concerned about the direction of his community as a resident? Most myopic school board members I know of would be scared of his honesty and his conviction to doing what is best for the community in which he resides. Being a former school board trustee in Grosse Pointe, I was able to see his conviction to the mantra of "students first" in action. It is truly amazing. If the Rochester school board was smart, rather than shunning his honesty, they would embrace his passion and put HIM on the new superintendent selection committee and use his talents and first hand knowledge of what makes a great school system to make Rochester the school system everyone knows it can be.
Ahmed Ismail August 16, 2012 at 12:02 AM
As far as what to do now, the reality of hiring a new superintendent is that interviews need to happen in January or February so that the new super can start July 1. In the interim, the smart move would be to make Gerri Moore the interim superintendent. She knows the system, its strengths and its weaknesses. At the same time, find Mr. Clarke something he can do in the system until he leaves (or buy out his contract) and move the system forward out of the stagnancy that will happen otherwise. To do any less would be a disservice to the community.
Sue Burstein August 16, 2012 at 05:35 PM
LOL...only it isn't funny. This is not a problem in just Rochester. This is an epidemic throughout school districts and boards. They pretend that they want community input, but the reality is that they are annoyed by the community, cause face it folks, you are just a nuisance with your opinions. In my district, Farmington, put together a committee to help determine which schools to close. This committee put in 1200 man hours and was made up mostly of community members. Guess what, they didn't even vote on any of the "recommended" actions, but rather voted on a "not recommended" action that the Board forced them to consider. What an insult. But the truth is that this is the most power that these people will ever garner in their lifetimes...and they are awash in it and have lost perspective. So, the community needs to fix it. Recall them...vote them out, and put in good people (like Mike Reno was on the Board) who do care what the community has to say. Hey all...THIS IS YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK..not their own money.
Clara T August 16, 2012 at 06:10 PM
You're quite right about the pervasiveness of the problem, Sue. But don't sell the Rochester school board short. When it comes to administrative bumbling and fumbling, they set the standard.


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