RICHMOND, Va. -- The just-announced departure of Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden sent shockwaves through City Hall.
The announcement came less than 24 hours after the school board met in a private, closed session Friday night sources told CBS 6 was about Dr. Bedden's future.
Dr. Bedden took over RPS in 2014. He got a contract extension the following year that would have kept him in his current role in school leadership until June 2019.
School board members and the city said they have reached an agreement with Dr. Bedden to end his term two years early on June 30th, 2017.
“We need to know,” said Reva Trammell, 8th District Councilmember. “The people need to know and that`s what they`re telling me --they want to know.”
“I think when you have an abrupt upset in leadership, the momentum that was behind Dr. Bedden was lost,” said Kim Gray, 2nd District Councilmember. “So, I think that has a lasting impact.”
Gray served on Richmond’s school board when they appointed Bedden superintendent in 2014.
“He`s human. Nobody`s perfect,” she said. “I think he`s done a tremendous job helping families and community around a common vision.”
“We turned around Binford Middle school. We`ve turned around a lot of programming,” she added.
But Richmond’s NAACP President James Minor pointed to a recent academic progress report showing only 17 of the 44 Richmond schools are fully accredited.
“The data shows that we have a failing school system,” Minor said. “So, as of right now, it's a crisis.”
“Our schools are under a state of an emergency,” Minor added. “And we need to do whatever we can to help our schools."
As part of a mutual agreement, Bedden will leave Richmond Public Schools in June, two years before his contract expires.
That has prompted questions and concerns, but so far no answers from the board.
“I thought he was doing a good job,” Trammell said. “And how do you do this in the middle of a budget?! We`re in the middle of a budget. Where`s the money coming from to buy him out?”
The School Board previously released this statement on the decision:
The School Board thanks Dr. Bedden for his contributions to our school division and appreciates his service during the past three and a half years to our students, parents, staff and administration. We wish Dr. Bedden well. The School Board remains committed to creating the best environment for students to learn, thrive and grow. It is our intent to immediately seek new leadership that shares our vision.