Goodloe-Johnson fired, Enfield named interim superintendent

Goodloe-Johnson fired, Enfield named interim superintendent »Play Video
SEATTLE -- Maria Goodloe-Johnson has been fired from her position as the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools.

The board unanimously voted to terminate Goodloe-Johnson at a packed meeting on Wednesday.

Goodloe-Johnson was not present at the meeting at which public testimony was heard. The board also voted unanimously to terminate Don Kennedy, the district's chief financial and operating officer.

Board members, in a 6-to-1 vote, also decided to appoint Susan Enfield, the district's chief academic officer, as interim superintendent. Betty Patu voted against the motion.

Before joining Seattle Public Schools in July 2009, Enfield worked as the deputy superintendent of Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver, Wash. She also worked as the director of teaching and learning for Portland Public Schools and as the bureau director for teaching and learning support for the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

"This is an incredibly challenging time for Seattle Public Schools, but it also presents us, both as a school system and a community, with an opportunity to come together on behalf of our students," said Enfield at Wednesday's meeting.

The interim superintendent also vowed to "ensure that our financial and operational issues do not detract from the quality of day-to-day teaching and learning in our classrooms."

Goodloe-Johnson came under question after a state audit found Seattle Public Schools wasted or misspent $1.8 million on a training program run by Silas Potter.

Two studies concluded Goodloe-Johnson played no role in the program, but knew of the problems and should have done more.

The school board says upper management is to blame for a disaster that took the money out of the classrooms.

"The disturbing evidence of repeated violations of public trust requires swift action by the board. We are committed to insuring this never happens again," said Seattle School Board President Steve Sundquist.

But the impending dismissal brought a warning from the state auditor whose critical findings touched off the scandal.

"What if the next people you bring in operate with less oversight and accountability than they had before?" said Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag. "That's meaningless. It's the system, the controls, the environment they work in that really matters ultimately."

Potter, the man at the center of the controversy, told the Seattle Times on Wednesday he was just followed orders in awarding contracts.

Potter told the Times a legal officer named Ron English approved his work. But English disputed that statement in a written statement to KOMO News.

"These allegations are not true. I had no involvement or knowledge of his contracts," English said. "I prepare the standard contract forms used by the District, but not the actual consulting contracts. I do not review invoices. I had no knowledge that Mr. Potter was using District resources for his personal gain."

Potter resigned June 7 as the investigation was starting. Potter reported to Fred Stephens, the former director of facilities and construction. Stephens resigned from the school district in July and has since been appointed as deputy assistant secretary for administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce.