School Board chief steps down as ACPS chief steps up

School Board chief steps down as ACPS chief steps up

Alexandria City School Board Chairwoman Claire Eberwein announced Tuesday that she plans to move out of the country after finishing the remainder of the school year at her post, just one day after the school board announced Dr. Morton Sherman as the city schools new superintendent.

Eberwein will be moving to Vienna, Austria, with her family for reasons relating to her husbands career, according to a press release. Eberweins resignation will take effect June 30 of this year. She had not returned phone calls made by the Times at press time.

I am so thrilled with the appointment of our new superintendent and sincerely regret that I will be unable to work with him during his initial years in Alexandria, Eberwein stated in an ACPS press release. Dr. Sherman is in that upper pantheon of superintendents nationally who can make our system into one of the countrys best.

Sherman was unaware of the chairwomans resignation until the day after the official selection was released. Im disappointed, Sherman said on the phone from New Jersey. She had been really good and straight forward with me in our conversations but, you know, we move on. So I wish her the best.

Because Eberweins term was scheduled to end June 30, 2009, a special election is in order.

According to the citys charter, if a school board vacancy is created because of the chairpersons departure, the remaining members must select a new chairperson from amongst themselves as soon as practicable and by a majority vote despite there being an even number (eight) of members remaining.

The vacancy created by the selected board member will be decided by a special election, occuring within 60 days of the board certifying the vacancy with the citys Circuit Court, according to the citys code. The election will likely take place this summer, ACPS Information Coordinator Mary Jane Solomon said.

Though the superintendent position has been filled, two top-tier gaps in the school system remain. T.C. Williams High School Principal Mel Riddile recently left to take a position with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and Eberweins departure leaves another major void to be filled by a current school board member.

It comes at a little bit of an awkward time, certainly, Councilman Paul Smedberg said. And that is too bad. You would want the school board intact to work with the [new] superintendent. But she has to make life choices as well and I guess an opportunity like this is hard to pass up.

Eberweins resignation comes after a turbulent year for the school board in which a slight majority voted not to renew former Superintendent Rebecca Perrys contract that ended at the 2008 school years completion. Perrys drunk driving charge in 2004 was a focal point for community backlash against her. Perry resigned early, though, in messy January exit.

Troubles mounted for Eberweins board in April when it banged heads with a consulting firm that it hired to fill Perrys position. The firm had narrowed the candidate pool to three when the board broke ties with the consultants and hired the firm that helped find Dr. Sherman.