Schools superintendent quits

April 19, 2001

Schools superintendent quits


Herman G. BartlettPhoto: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

Washington County Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett's resignation was a joint agreement with the School Board, he said at a press conference Thursday afternoon at the Board of Education's central office.


"My resignation is a mutual determination made between the elected board and myself," Bartlett said.

He said Thursday morning that the future of the school system would be better directed under another's leadership.

The School Board backed Bartlett's claims in a press release issued early Thursday evening.

"We the members of the Washington County Board of Education agree with him," the release stated. "The board will not be looking backward."


Phil Ray, the board's director of human resources, on Thursday announced his resignation effective May 4. He said his resignation is not related to Bartlett's.

Ray said he has no immediate career plans.

Bartlett said he and the School Board reached the agreement on his resignation at about 9 p.m. Wednesday. He announced his resignation Thursday morning, but would not elaborate on what led to the agreement.

Bartlett said he plans to work through June 30.

Bartlett's resignation comes in the wake of intimidation allegations by former and current employees. In addition, a Gaithersburg, Md., private investigator confirmed Wednesday he was investigating the school system but would not say why.

Bartlett said he doesn't think the investigation played a role in his resignation.

"I don't perceive that it does," he said. "I'm not aware of the scope of that investigation."

He said he hasn't met with the investigator, Peter A. Peltier of Security Analysis Associates Inc., but thinks the investigation has concluded. He referred all questions about the investigation to the School Board.

None of the seven board members was at the press conference. School Board President J. Herbert Hardin said he had not been aware that a press conference was being held.

In March, Bartlett had been a finalist for the director of schools position in Williamson County, Tenn., near Nashville, but withdrew his application. He told school officials there he wanted to remain in Washington County.

He also said last month that he was prepared to stay with Washington County public schools through the end of his contract, which was to expire in 2002.

He said he has made financial arrangements with the board regarding the remainder of his contract and referred all questions to School Board members. Bartlett's salary is $105,000 a year.

School Board member Doris Nipps said she would not comment on Bartlett's resignation or on any conditions of the agreement, including whether the board decided to buy out the remainder of Bartlett's contract.

"You will not be hearing anything about that," Hardin said. "We have arranged an agreement. I can't respond to that."

On Monday, Bartlett said he had not found another job and had not been looking for one since he withdrew from the Tennessee position.

He became interim superintendent of Washington County schools in 1997. In 1998 he signed a four-year contract with the board.

Sharon Chirgott, president of the Washington County Teachers Association, said teachers were shocked over his resignation.

"It was a lot of surprise, not so much that it happened, but at the timing," she said.

Teachers didn't expect Bartlett to resign while the board was working on its $128 million budget for fiscal 2002, she said.

Teachers and administrators have said that too much pressure had been put on schools to improve MSPAP scores under Bartlett's leadership. They also alleged he had intimidated staff, which pushed employees to either retire early or look for jobs in other school systems.

Bartlett has said he's never heard of any employee leaving the school system because of his management.

"Dr. Bartlett's resignation at this time appears to be in the best interest of our school system," said Jenny Belliotti, president of the Washington County Council of PTAs. "I'm confident that our school system will continue to prosper, and I wish Dr. Bartlett well."

The School Board said its next step is to begin the search for a new superintendent.

"We will seek to recruit an educational visionary who can envision and lead the Washington County public school system to a position of excellence in the areas of academic performance, teacher and staff morale, communication and community involvement," the board stated in a release.

Nipps said the board would plan to hire an interim superintendent while it searches for a replacement. The board has not decided whether the interim superintendent will be from within or outside of the school system.

A superintendent, which can include interim employees, must be in place in a school system by July 1 under Maryland law, Nipps said.

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