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Boston Superintendent to Retire

Boston schools Superintendent Dr. Carol R. Johnson will step down at the end of the school year, the school district announced earlier today.

Johnson has been superintendent of the 57,000-student district since August 2007. She previously led school systems in Milwaukee, Memphis, and the St. Louis Park district near Minneapolis.

Thumbnail image for CJohnson in office.jpgIn a video announcing her departure, Johnson says that she is leaving her position in order to spend time with her family. Johnson's husband passed away in March. In the video, she says the district's academic performance has improved over time. She also thanks the community for supporting her and the district's students for sending her art and well-wishes in recent weeks.

"I am so proud of what we have accomplished together," Johnson said in a press release. "We have improved our high school graduation rates and MCAS [Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System] performance; we have brought hundreds of students back who had dropped out of school, and are closing achievement gaps. We have expanded academic support for our English Language Learners and students with disabilities, and we have increased the number of quality school choices through our turnaround, in-district charter and innovation schools."

Boston's mayor, Thomas Menino, released a statement about Johnson's departure, calling Johnson "one of the most compassionate, caring, and talented Superintendents in the United States." Boston's system of mayoral control means that Menino and Johnson often work closely together on schools issues. Menino announced in March that he would not seek reelection.

I spoke with Johnson this fall, after she was awarded the Council of the Great City Schools' top award for an urban superintendent. Johnson spoke about her pride in increasing the city's graduation rate and arts education programs in the city, her hopes that the district would be able to improve the engagement of black male students, and how being a teacher had influenced her work as a superintendent. Johnson received a mixed performance review last spring, but the Boston school committee had continued to express support for her.

Johnson's contract runs through 2015. The Boston school committee will select a new superintendent. Here's Boston.com's reporting on Johnson's departure, and here's an article from the Boston Globe that says Johnson had just recently been speaking as though she would remain in her post.

Boston's students returned to school yesterday for the first time since last week's bombing at the Boston Marathon. Johnson also addresses the district's return to school in the video announcing her retirement.

Photo: Carol Johnson in her office. Source: Boston Public Schools

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