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'Leadership carousel' in Petersburg Schools: interim superintendent resigns

Posted at 12:21 PM, Jun 12, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. --Petersburg City Schools Interim Superintendent John Farrelly resigned from the job Tuesday, six days shy of two months on the job.

Farrelly, who started with Petersburg as Chief of Staff in July 2023, took over as Interim Superintendent on April 17th in the wake of former Superintendent Dr. Tamara Sterling’s sudden and unexpected resignation in early March.

The Petersburg School Board has not given a reason for Sterling’s resignation.

She was on the job for 15 months and left long before her contract was set to expire.

In a press release provided by Petersburg City Schools Farrelly said:

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to have served the Petersburg community in the multiple roles I have performed over the past year. I have greatly valued the relationships I have built, the leadership of the School Board, and the support of the community. I am looking forward to a new challenge in Caroline County Public Schools while continuing to cheer for Petersburg from afar."

Farrelly will be Caroline County Public School’s next Director of Finance.

The Petersburg School Board is expected to announce its next Interim Superintendent on June 12th, according to the press release.

The Superintendency in Petersburg has been a revolving door over the years, with the division having eight permanent or acting superintendents since June of 2010.

In a statement released by the teacher’s union in Petersburg, the union blamed some members of the School Board for Farrelly’s resignation stating “while Dr. Farrelly’s resignation is being painted by some as simply a move to a better opportunity, city educators also see it as a move born out of frustration at being hampered in one’s job by unnecessary interference from some members of the city’s school board.”

The Petersburg Education Association said the students and educators are left to pay the price “as the leadership carousel in Petersburg Public Schools continues.”

“Established and trusted leadership, providing much-needed continuity and a commitment to PPS, would go a long way toward building and maintaining the high-quality learning and teaching conditions our children and school employees need and deserve.”

Eighty-three percent of students in Petersburg are economically disadvantaged, according to VDOE data.

None of the eight schools in the division are fully accredited.

The state entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the division back in 2016 to try to get full accreditation, and, eight years later, they are still working toward that goal.

In the school division’s press release about Farrelly’s departure, the Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons said “The Virginia Department of Education remains committed to working shoulder-to- shoulder with Petersburg on their journey to being an exemplary school division. I appreciate Chairman Pritchett’s commitment and focus and am confident Petersburg Schools is taking positive steps forward as they work through this transition.”

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