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Rochester Superintendent Fred Clarke Seeking New Job

A year after starting his role in Rochester, Clarke is a candidate for a superintendent position on the west side of the state.

Fred Clarke, who , is looking for work with another school district, he announced Tuesday.

Clarke, who came to the district from Albion Public Schools, is a candidate for a superintendent position with Grant Public Schools in Grant, in Newaygo County on the west side of Michigan. 

He is scheduled to be interviewed publicly for that job this week.

In a statement, Clarke said he informed the Board of Education of his plan to seek another job opportunity earlier this month.

Clarke has not officially resigned. But in an email to parents Tuesday afternoon, he said, "I am confident that the Board and my successor will continue to move the district forward."

Clarke released the following statement:

“Rochester is a great, high achieving district and I am honored to be a part of the leadership team here,” he said. “I am so impressed by the professionalism of the staff and the incredible support of the parent community.

"While I am proud of what we have accomplished over the past year in terms of transitioning to the Common Core State Standards, developing a teacher evaluation tool, and hiring dynamic new administrators, I am also saddened by the hard choices we had to make, particularly the loss of 250 employees due to contracting services.

"My experience in Rochester has convinced me that my true passion lies in working to close the achievement gap in districts that are challenged in ways that Rochester is not.”

The Open Meeting Act has provisions that require boards to announce candidates for a superintendent position. 

Board President Jennifer Berwick wished Clarke well in his pursuit of a new leadership position. "We appreciate the time and effort he has given to Rochester Community Schools," she said in a statement.

"We are confident that he will continue to work with the Board and administration in providing leadership to do what is best for our students during this transitional period.”

Clarke was hired in 2011 to replace retiring Superintendent David Pruneau. he was offered the position, Clarke said he felt "extrememely honored" and "pure excitement" about his future in Rochester. The search to hire Clarke cost the district about $30,000 in 2010 and 2011.

Grant Public Schools encompasses four schools: two elementary schools, a middle school and a high school. The district's 2011-12 enrollment was 2,071, according to the state's enrollment dashboard, www.mischooldata.org.

That district's Superintendent, Scott Bogner, resigned in June to take a position with Goodrich Schools.

Marianne Maurer July 25, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Geraldine Moore has been a strong force in RCS since her arrival over 6 years ago. The fact that she was one of the finalists in the past search makes her the clear choice for this job. I'm sure the BOE realizes they have a well seasoned candidate and capable leader already among their ranks.
Joshua Raymond July 25, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I also find this resignation rather disturbing and am not quite sure what to make of it. I was surprised during the initial selection process of the quick and unanimous decision for Mr. Clarke as I considered both him and Mrs. Moore to be well-qualified candidates. The Board knows Mrs. Moore well and considered her strong enough to make it to the final round, but apparently decided a relative unknown was a better choice for the district. There is significant speculation, but unless further details emerge, I am willing to take Mr. Clarke at his word. I have interviewed and accepted jobs at companies only to get in and realize that the position or corporate culture was not a good fit for me. While the superintendent interview process can be extensive, there is still significant margin for one or both parties to realize later that it was not a good fit.
Laura Cassar July 25, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I would think that Grant Public Schools would consider Mr. Clarke's decision to bail one year in pretty suspect too. When I used to hire, job hopping was always a red flag on the resume.
Joshua Raymond July 25, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I've had the opportunity to talk with Mrs. Moore on a number of occasions regarding gifted education issues and I have been glad to hear her become more vocal about high achieving students receiving academically aligned education. My understanding is that there is currently a committee studying subject matter acceleration policies within the Rochester Community Schools, but I do not know if this was initiated by her or Mr. Clarke. I am encouraged to see steps in the right direction. My concern has been that when I and other parents have discussed issues with her regarding current situations in the classroom surrounding gifted education, we have been told that the issues have been addressed with the principal or emphasized in principal council meetings and professional development, yet we have not seen this impact the classroom through greater differentiation or correcting of the issues. This has made me question the efficacy of her leadership, but I hope to be proved wrong.
Rochester Hills Resident July 25, 2012 at 03:00 PM
It addition to Geraldine Moore there were also 2 candidates from both Grosse Pointe School District and Birmingham School District. Each of these seemed like they were much more obvioius fits for this position given their professional backgrounds and experience. It is was hard to understand the decision at the time and even more so now.
Dave Mulford July 25, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I'm sure this stint will look good on Mr. Clarks resume ... I'm still trying to understand $30K ... really?
Clara T July 25, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Jake MacNeil: The former was facetious. The latter was not. This was a costly judgement call on the school board's part. Let's hope they do better this time. As noted by others, the hire was questionable from the outset given the disparities between the school district (Albion) from which Clarke was hired and RCS. At minimum the board should conduct a site visit (if the next person comes from outside RCS) and consider the aforementioned clause.
Joshua Raymond July 25, 2012 at 03:12 PM
I've found it odd how there is almost no information out there about the Grant Public Schools superintendent search. I can't find a candidate list on their website or a newspaper article about it.
mary clark July 25, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Doesn't it occur to anyone, that the only reason mr. clarke was hired , was to outsource? Just like in Albion, now in Rochester...Lookout Grant Public Schools - you're next.
Chris July 25, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Not to beat a dead horse but I also want to know what costs 30,000 dollars to find someone to run a district? Seriously...
Clara T July 25, 2012 at 04:48 PM
It's even worse. Check the contract's fine print, but the Rochester school board reportedly bumped Clarke's Albion salary from $120 to $180K+ when he was hired. That generous figure now becomes his bargaining chip as well as the base for his pension should he retire in the next few years.
Mike Reno July 25, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Clarke was not brought in to outsource. They started the process before Clarke, and will likely continue with whomever is hired as a replacement. It's inevitable, not just in Rochester, but in unionized Michigan schools. Clarke was brought in as a result of the school board's tendency to behave like a social club, rather than a serious governing board. The district had a chance to elevate accomplished existing assistant supts from three so-called "high performing districts" (Rochester, B'Ham, and Grosse Pointe), and instead chose to snatch Clarke up from the bottom 5% of all Michigan districts. Regardless of Clarke's resume, the demographics of Albion had no match with Rochester. The size and complexity of the district had no match with Rochester. His experience had no match with Rochester. Yet in it's infinite wisdom the board selected him for this grand experiment with no meaningful explanation or rationale. How on earth was he supposed to succeed in this sort of setting? Does anyone realize that this board did not even bother to make a site visit or check references before moving him from his $110K job to his $180K job? Nothing against Clarke... more of an observation on the "dedicated volunteers". Anyway, what seems to be absent from this discussion is the "what if" scenario at Grant. They are interviewing... they have not yet hired Clarke. What if they don't hire him?
Mike Reno July 25, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Hehe... from Patch in March, 2011! :-) "I found him to be articulate, to have a depth of knowledge and to be very well-prepared," said board member Marty Sibert, who led the committee to find a new superintendent to replace retiring Superintendent David Pruneau. "He always spoke in a positive manner," Sibert said. "I certainly found him to have a vision." Clarke outlined that vision in a presentation and interview with board members before their decision Friday night; he was the third and final candidate interviewed this week. Board members commended Clarke's background in technology, his ability to think "out of the box" and his commitment to being involved with the community outside of the school. They described him as intellectual and inspirational — one who would take the district from "great to greatest," as he mentioned in his interview Friday. "He had meat behind the vision and some demonstrable examples. ... He saw the challenges as opportunities," said board member Gerald Moore. Board member Chuck Coutteau called Clarke a collaborative, participating leader. "He was zeroing in on the right things," Coutteau said. "He has experience with being creative with less funding." Board members planned to call Clarke to offer him the position following Friday night's meeting. They will then begin to negotiate his salary.
pandora July 25, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I would be very concerned over a canidate from Grosse Pointe Schools. I am personal friends with several teachers and citizens in that district and have been surprised repeatedly by how "old school" their system appears to be run. Professionally staff sounds as if it has been offered very little training and support in the latest achievement trends. Their system seem years behind RCS in their curriculum; making the jump to common core intensely difficult. They have limited classroom support, which we in Rochester have always upheld as important to delivering quality instruction.Their special education department is even more interestingly run. I would hope canidates from a potentially antiquated system would be weighed in a way it seems Mr. Clarke may have not. Biting off more than one can chew in such a financially precariuos and turmoltuous time as this and on the onset to a new contract year for teachers is very stressful. What we need is for citizens who are concerned with the schools to contact their representatives and pay attention to legislation that is taking money away from our children's education through their decision making and become more informed and involved politically. As to Mr. Clarke, what happens is what happens, and I'd rather see us move positively forward then try to make assumptions about why and turn it into a media drama.
Mike Reno July 25, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Not sure why we'd diss Grosse Pointe, when they clearly excel by nearly every measurable metric... except perhaps the speed which which they jump on trendy pedagogy. I went with Clarke and Joshua Raymond to tour Grosse Pointe's G&T program, and it was very impressive and very effective. You can find teachers and citizens in every district that can express admiration for the district approach. Interestingly, you can just as easily find teachers and citizens who can express equally passionate and justifiable disdain for a district's approach. This is true in Rochester, Grosse Pointe, and presumably Grant and Albion as well. Makes sense, given the public education approach of "one-size-fits-all." Some will be very happy, while others will not. If this does become a drama, it will be because our school board left so many people scratching their heads a year ago, completely baffled with this Eliza Doolittle experiment.
Kristin Bull (Editor) July 25, 2012 at 06:13 PM
The district paid a search firm, in this case the Illinois-based School Exec Connect, to help find the superintendent. That is typical in the search for a superintendent -- Grant Public Schools has done the same.
Joshua Raymond July 25, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I agree with Mike. Our visit to Grosse Pointe schools showed us some of the ways that they effectively meet the needs of all students, including the ability for students to simply walk down the hall to an upper classroom for acceleration in a subject and an excellent system for knowing where a student was academically instead of simply whether he had passed benchmark tests such as the MEAP. A teacher did remark that they had imported the Workshop Model from RCS, but just because they do not rapidly switch to often unproven new methods does not mean that the methods they use are lacking. In fact, their excellent scores show Grosse Pointe has been effectively educating their students with whatever methods they are using. If the key to excellent teaching and student achievement were solely in the methods used, student achievement should have climbed continuously as new and better methods were used. Unfortunately, it has stayed rather stagnant.
RS July 25, 2012 at 08:31 PM
I agree! way to go Freddy. You ruined the lives of people in Albion, came here and ruined another 250 lives. It will come out that you were forced out! You gonna ruin the lives of the people in Grant next?
RS July 25, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Just wait to see how much they spend on another search!
RS July 25, 2012 at 08:55 PM
The school board is clueless. They only go by what administration tells them because they don't know any better! Nobody on that board has the guts to stand up for whats right.
Chris July 25, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I am shocked at what is being said about the school board acting more like a social club. Can anybody else shed some light on this? We voted for them...
RS July 25, 2012 at 10:24 PM
There is much more to this story but i'm not gonna comment what I heard because at this point, it's hear say
Kristin Bull (Editor) July 25, 2012 at 11:00 PM
That is true - the district does not appear to be covered by any local media. There does not appear to be a candidate list on the district's website. Our calls/emails to the district about the application/interview process have not been returned.
Kristin Bull (Editor) July 25, 2012 at 11:01 PM
It appears as though Grant Public Schools has already at least considered outsourcing of custodians and transportation at its spring budget hearings, though there are no board meeting minutes or transcripts posted online that indicate whether that was approved in their 2012-13 budget.
Kristin Bull (Editor) July 25, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Thank you, RS, for not posting "hearsay."
Kristin Bull (Editor) July 26, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Update: Fred Clarke has been selected as a finalist for this position; he will be interviewed Monday night, along with Jonathan Whan of Bedford Schools and Tim Hughes of Ashley Schools.
JM Landers July 27, 2012 at 06:06 AM
FYI I know lots of Grosse Pointe Teachers and students YES GP South is a great school but GPNorth has gone seriously down hill !! I'm not finding blame, just saying things have changed check the scores.I'm going to contact my friends who teach in GPschools to see what they thought of him.. Just wondered if anyone looked at the Clarkston district for someone that district has some great people
been around July 31, 2012 at 07:18 PM
If the composition of the board has changed since Clarke was hired you can be sure that internal politics is the reason he is leaving. When the board turns against you it is impossible to effectively lead a school district. The new board members have no loyalty to Clarke and may even be openly hostile to him because of their preference for another candidate. Clarke is an intelligent, compassionate, dedicated professional who wouldn't be leaving if he believed he could be successful at RH. Undoubtedly, the board has turned against him for reasons other than job performance and so a good man has to uproot his family again. And don't judge him by his experience in Albion. It will take Jesus himself to fix that train wreck.
Joshua Raymond August 05, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Kristin, any word on a decision by Grant Public Schools?
Kristin Bull (Editor) August 06, 2012 at 01:42 PM
No update yet, Joshua.

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