The very popular and sought after Superintendent of Richmond Public Schools has essentially been fired and nobody is saying exactly why. Neither Dr. Bedden himself nor the Richmond Public School Board members have clearly explained why Dr. Bedden is being forced to step down. Why after his celebrated hire in 2014 and working HARD to retain him when he was being wooed by a prestigious appointment in the Boston Public School System a little more than a year ago, is he now leaving Richmond? What has poisoned the relationship between the Superintendent and his School Board to the point of irreconcilable differences in such a short period of time fully 2 years before his current contract ends?
“Dr. Dana T. Bedden holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Virginia Tech, a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Pennsylvania State University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida. He also completed postdoctoral courses in School Business Leadership at Wilkes University and attended Harvard University Graduate School of Education Leadership Institute for Superintendents. With over 20 years of experience in educational leadership, Dr. Bedden has developed a results-oriented reputation for improving academic achievement, working with diverse groups, increasing parent/community involvement, implementing systems-thinking, and providing a positive school and work environment. He has demonstrated effective leadership skills in standards and performance-based practices, human resource management, fiscal management, and school/community partnerships.” —– www.rvaschools.net
Rumors abound in the community because those that know won’t say. There are no good answers to the questions being asked, only more and more rumors, innuendo and false information being scattered about. And that is entirely unsatisfactory for all involved but most importantly it is unfair to the taxpayers of the City of Richmond and the community who depend upon the integrity of the leadership they have elected. Clearly Dr. Bedden’s credentials and former experience make him well qualified for the job of superintendent, and only a few years ago the School Board was in full agreement as they pushed to hire and to keep him here. So what is going on now?
Although there have been questions raised as to the integrity of his doctoral dissertation with regard to appropriate citation protocol, Virginia Tech has not rescinded his diploma nor disqualified his work. Because the RPS Board has declined comment and refused to clarify their nearly unanimous decision to force Bedden out, they have created an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion. It makes one wonder if politics are playing a role in this season of discontent? Dr. Bedden’s non-traditional dissertation focused on the school-to-prison-pipeline and how constitutional law applies when students and their property are searched for drugs or weapons. Are there some disagreements and dissention surrounding this topic with school board members, public officials, parents and community activists? It is certainly possible but without some type of full disclosure we will never know. There are places around the world where governments operate beyond the will of the people; they operate in secrecy and with paternalistic agendas. Right now, it feels like the RPS board is operating in like manner. We want to know WHY Dr. Bedden is leaving and we will continue to ask until we have some answers.