Heatley withdraws candidacy for BUSD Superintendent

Edmond Heatley

Edmond Heatley has withdrawn his candidacy for the post of Berkeley Schools district Superintendent. Heatley was the only candidate in the running, after the school board let it be known on Aug. 31 that they had narrowed to field down to one.

An alert released by BUSD at 8:38am today reads:

In an email to Board President John T. Selawsky Dr. Edmund Heatley said: “I want to thank you personally for all of your time and support. I have attached my letter of withdrawal from candidacy for the position of Superintendent of the Berkeley Unified School District. I wish you, the Board and Community of Berkeley nothing but success in the future.”

The Board will be meeting in the days and weeks ahead to determine the next step. President Selawsky stated, “We will advise the community as soon as we have determined what that next step will be. Fortunately we have two very capable interim superintendents doing a great job of running the District while we work this out.”

The credentials of Edmond Heatley, who resigned as Superintendent of Clayton County, GA, school district on August 30, the day before a contingent from BUSD made a site visit to Clayton County, have come under fire from the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, as well as from individual teachers and parents. The focus for much of the criticism is Heatley’s training at The Broad Superintendent’s Academy, his management style, and his role in the passage of a resolution in support of Proposition 8 when he was superintendent in San Bernardino County’s Chino Valley school district.

The withdrawal of Heatley puts the school board back to the start of a superintendent search that was triggered by Bill Huyett’s retirement announcement last DecemberA high-profile, very consultative search led by consultants from Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates produced a short list last spring. But according to sources, the board was deadlocked 3-2 over two finalists in that search and neither side was willing to compromise. In August, the board named two senior BUSD administrators as joint interim superintendents. After the spring deadlock, the board had been able to agree unanimously on Heatley as the only finalist for the superintendent post. The likelihood now is that leadership in the superintendent search will pass from Selawsky, who is not running for re-election, to director Leah Wilson, who assumes the board presidency later this year.

Berkeley school board calls special meeting for Tuesday [09.17.12]
Questions about Heatley’s role in Prop 8 resolution swirl [09.14.12]
Superintendent candidate supported Prop 8 in Chino post [09.14.12]
Heatley’s Broad Academy connections attract criticism [09.12.12]
Likely new Berkeley school superintendent under scrutiny [09.05.12]
Berkeley school district names likely superintendent [08.31.12]

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  • David

    Hopefully with the new search they will look for someone interested in all the families of Berkeley.

  • RK

    I won’t hold my breath for the school board to learn from their mistakes on this colossal failure.

  • laura

    That is wise observation, and echoes the  comment I made during the retirement party of the last two board members. Without any organized political opposition to the powers, why would the city/schools leadership work to be accountable?

  • Gay BUSD parent

    Let’s get some non-bigoted talent, please.

  • Shutter

    He couldn’t take the HEAT. Now turn it on the school board and demand an explanation for their mind-boggling choice. 

  • BNR

    As someone who has been critical of Dr. Heatley, I must say that I am moved by his gracious letter of withdrawal. I am sure that many of us have learned from this experience of civic engagement. I certainly have. I wish only that Willard would learn from Dr. Heatley how to make a gracious exit.  

  • Tom F

    The board should simply consider promoting someone into the post vs to go about an expensive (and potentially wasteful) process of searching ‘the world over’ for someone ‘qualified’.  Recent history suggests our Board has difficulty getting along, and further their ability to vet candidates is suspect.  I wish the board would have spent the thousands of dollars they wasted on the “visit to Clayton” on our schools vs. on their travel junket (I suspect that cost was upwards of $10k +).  Coupled with the cost of the executive search, we are talking a waste of dollars in the hundreds of thousands range.  Simply shocking.

  • BNR

     From the statements made by Board candidates, I see only Tracey Hollander having called unequivocally for the rejection of Heatley’s candidacy. She also seems to be the only one with real teaching experience. I do not know her; she has been at a different elementary school than our family. But at this point she is my top candidate.
    It’s possible that Selawasky was one of the two people opposing Heatley and that we could end up with a Board that would have voted 4-1 for him.
    That’s frightening indeed. 

  • Guest

    I am a gay BUSD parent w/ 7th and 10th graders – my kids got wind of this whole kerfuffle separate from me.  It was very interesting to hear of their outrage and their plans for, if he was appointed, letting the new Supe know exactly what their point of view and experience was.  Clearly this guy was not a good fit for the community, and after writing to all the board members last week and appreciating all Berkeleyside was doing to help get this issue visibility in the community, I’m relieved.  Thank you to all you good people for your engagement and support on this issue.  I am more than ever thankful I live in a place where my family is accepted and my kids and their peers think that coming from a loving home with supportive same-gender parents is just fine. 

  • Single parents aren’t so bad

    I would really like Berkeleyside to get to the bottom of how this happened.  Who was behind this person?  I’m assuming one or two of the Board members pushed this along. Who was it? We need to know for future elections. Thanks for your work.

  • guest

     Come to the School Board Candidate Forum at LeConte 6-8pm on Sept. 27!

  • Robwrenn

    So there was a 3-2 vote. I’d like to know who the three were who backed Heatley. Anybody know? Beatriz Leyva-Cutler is the only incumbent running for re-election this year. How did she vote? 

  • The Sharkey

    Hooray for Heatley withdrawing!

    Now if the School Board can just get their heads out of their rears and drop the pointless political appeasement nonsense and just hire the most qualified administrator they can find (who has a decent track record and hasn’t outed themselves as a bigot), we’ll be on the right track.

  • jjohannson

    I second that.  The acrimonious board fracture leading to this hurtful mess — one that was not obvious even to regular observers — bodes ill for the district going forward, and in six weeks the community vote will either help seal or solve the schism.  Whatever you can do to enterprise on this summer’s hiring crisis would be most helpful.

    And again, thanks for providing the community outlet that allowed us to coalesce timely public opinion.  My donation is in the mail.  Anyone else?

  • Gay BUSD parent

    Although she did not take a position due to Brown Act issues, Ms. Leyva-Cutler made it clear that she has a gay son and supports inclusive schools.

  • Gay BUSD parent

    I am with you.  My elementary child kept talking about his lesbian teachers (not our own family).  Very interesting.

  • The 3-2 split was over earlier candidates. The board was unanimous in its vote to make Heatley its only final candidate.

  • Sorry if we were unclear in the article. The board was unanimously for selecting Heatley as the lone final candidate for superintendent. The 3-2 vote was in the spring over different candidates.

  • Involved BUSD Mama

    I heard the other finalist was SUPER, and I really really hope the board re-considers his application. Let’s hope the 2 who would not be swayed can be flexible enough to reconsider, especially after the Heatley mess.

  • Susie

    Exactly Gay BUSD parent! Beatriz Leyva-Cutler has a long history of being an ally to the LGBTQ community, long before it was popular to be one. 

  • Guest

    Yahoo!  That is a terrific outcome for what was looking like a grisly situation.
    I can’t make the BUSD school board candidate forum on Sept 27.  Are there other forums?  How do we learn more about the school bord candidates in order to make an informed vote?

  • another BUSD parent

    ew. That was before the Chino Valley memo became public knowledge, right?

  • Marin Ave User

    One sobering thought. 

    Berkeley is an island. An island where our citizenry believes in strong participation. An island where we value diversity, not frown about it. This is not the case for some communities that are as close as the other side of the Caldecott Tunnels, or as far as the Gulf Coast, the East Coast or “flyover states”. I am very proud to live in this community. I only wish the rest of country put their official’s “feet to the fire” as well as Berkeley does. That is what makes a strong Democracy. 

    To use H.R. terms Dr. Heatley was simply not a “good fit.” Are there districts that would love to have him? That probably could benefit from his management style? Sure. We should wish him well in his endeavors. 

  • another BUSD parent

    ok, I’m confused. First I hear that the Board was unanimous in the vote re Heatley’s candidacy.

    Now, I  hear that Tracey Hollander & Beatrice Leyva Culter were opposed to him, at least after the Prop 8 memo came to light.  

    somebody help me out here?

    And BTW, Berkeleyside, Kudos to you for bringing this mess to light. We need even more transparency re how things got this far.

  • BSB

    Leah Wilson was the big Heatley fan and continues to be so as far as I know.  She is the only Board member who refuses to acknowledge how poorly the Board mismanaged this.  She need to go.

  • BSB

    Tracy Hollander is not a Board member.  My understanding is that it was Leah Wilson, Karen Hemphill and Beatriz who wanted to approve him.  Not sure about Josh Daniels and John Selawsky.  Beatriz had a change of mind after the Prop 8 information came out.

  • Yes.

  • If the board was unanimous in it’s support of this guy, then they all deserve to be voted out.  Sorry, but this board has demonstrated horrible judgement every time it engages with the public.  I’ve seen it time and again ever since the West Campus debacle in the early 2000s.  I went to my first school board meeting back then and the smartest person in the room was the student representative from BHS.  She was amazing.  I wanted here to be mayor but she was off to an ivy league in the fall.  Anyone running for re-election to the school board in November will not get my vote. 

  • The board’s unanimous vote on Heatley was before the site visit to Clayton — which was seen as the final due diligence step — and before the Chino memo came to light.

  • TizziLish

    Easier said than done, apparently.  Non-bigoted talent seems scarcer than hen’s teeth or a needle in a haystack.

    I can’t resist pointing out that we have openly bigoted men running for President and Vice President.  In many constituencies in this country, it seems, bigotry is acceptable.
    Just watch (altho, since Heatley’s future will not be local news, we might not learn what he does next), Heatley will land on his feet in another very well paid prestigious job, advancing his neo-con-trained agenda, which is what the Broad Superintendent Academy is all about.  Sadly the world is full of bigots in positions of power.

  • TizziLish

    When did hiring home-grown administrators who dedicate their lives to a school district, building their knowledge of the local school system and building their lives in the local community, become unacceptable?  Just as it makes sense to eat food from local watersheds, it makes sense to hire locally, home-grown talent.

    Why can’t both of the two acting superintendants be viable candidates for superintendant? What values drives our school board, and, apparently, many boards across the country, to conduct national searches? When did we give up on hiring from within?

  • another BUSD parent

    Thank for clarifying that!

  • another BUSD parent

    Thanks for clarifying that!

  • TizziLish

    I know this will seem like a racist comment, and maybe it is. As I age (59 and counting), I am increasingly aware that bigoted assumptions are woven into our culture and my being.  However, I suspect that Heatley’s race was part of the reason why he was ever chosen as the finalist. I think quite a lot of well-intentioned, liberally-leaning, good people wrongly assume that a black man is not bigoted and/or that a black man would not have bigoted attitudes. Assuming a black person to be bigotry-free is an irrational assumption. And Heatley demonstrates that such an assumption is wrong.

    Of course, we have Clarence Thomas on our U.S. Supreme Court as a glaring example of bigotry in a black man, but we all live with cognitive dissonance, making choices without really being conscious of our underlying assuumptions.

    Much as I don’t understand why so many white middle class voters have been voting against their own economic wellbeing in recent decades, I don’t understand how many black people in this country and align themselves with any form of bigotry. How can a black man, who has surely faced all kinds of bigotry, allow himself to be bigoted towards any others, such as gays?  I just don’t get it.

    Look at the rising cognitive dissonance in this culture. Berkeley CA has a school board that just chose a bigot as a final, sole candidate for superintendant and we have a knucklehead running for President as the GOP candidate who openly brags about his bigotry.

    The Mad Hatter Tea Party seems to have been prescient. I used to think Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece, Alice in Wonderland was merely a child’s delight but increasingly I see that Carroll was writing about the foibles of humanity’s adults.

  • Guest

    Yes!  I am the lesbian mom of the 7th and 10th graders mentioned above.  Good idea and thanks for the prompt!

  • Guest

    That’s hilarious, but kind of not, re: the BHS student.  Can we get her back?  ;-)

  • Peggy

    A potential and serious weak link in the chain to consider was the selection process and composition of the School Board’s Supt. Search Committee.

  • clayton teacher

    Way to go, Berkeley! 
    Your honest, intelligent and courageous public discussions are once again an inspiration to the rest of the country.
     In your quest to truly perform due diligence to get the best for your community, you also gave an unexpected ear to some of the injustices we have suffered over here in Clayton County.

    Thank you for listening to us.

    Very empowering.

    You all rock!

    And may you find the best of the best to lead your schools. 

  • BerkeleyParent

    As so

  • Berkeley Parent

    As someone who has done a LOT of hiring in my professional life, it seems to me that questions around the specific needs of our community should have come up early in the process.  For example, exploring a candidate’s opinion about our severe achievement/opportunity/outcome gaps, our divisions among hills and flatlands, our school assignment system, and the DIVERSITY OF OUR STUDENTS’ HOME STRUCTURES (same-sex parents, single parents, children raised by grandparents and other adults, our high percentage of homeless students…).  Did this simply not come up?  Like, “Whoops, forgot to mention who populates our schools!”  Who does our school board think they SERVE?  Who do they think comprise our teachers, our students, our parents?  This one is a no-brainer…and no, it is not about political correctness.  It is about “Do you believe two men/two women can raise healthy, successful, happy children?”  This is a yes/no question with a correct answer for our community.

  • guest

     I agree.  Let’s (financially) support Berkeleyside so it can continue to play this vital role in our community.

  • BHS parent

    Take a look at Judy Appel’s statement – she strongly states that Dr. Heatley was not a good fit for Berkeley, and explained how his statements hurt families and children within our community. She runs Our Family Coalition, a nationwide LGBT family program. 
    It’s exactly her reasoned voice and her call to move forward with a transparent search process that has won her my vote. She is exactly what we need on the school board right now.I urge you to take a look at her website

  • BayGirl

    I honestly think the issue is as simple as this:

    The board wants a game changer who will come in and start chopping.

    They cannot find anyone who fits with Berkeley and would actually do the above

  • guest

    Quite incredible to read how open minded you all are. Everyone is a Bigot if they do not share your non traditional values. Perhaps those values have contributed to your community suffering from such issues as mentioned by a Berkeley Parent  severe achievement/opportunity/outcome gaps, our divisions among hills
    and flatlands, our school assignment system, and the DIVERSITY OF OUR
    STUDENTS’ HOME STRUCTURES (same-sex parents, single parents, children
    raised by grandparents and other adults, (because their parents are absent indulging themselves in whatever selfish narcissistic people indulge in)  our high percentage of homeless
    students..  Your community probably needs a Dr. Heatley, but you would have drummed him out across the continent if you could. He is better off finding a position where he can have an opportunity to make a difference for good. I Wish your community all the best, hopefully light will shine in Berkley too.

  • emraguso