Petersburg Schools Superintendent Dr. Tamara Sterling is on leave, school board chair says

Petersburg Schools Superintendent Dr. Tamara Sterling
Posted at 6:36 PM, Mar 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-02 07:55:33-05

PETERSBURG, Va. -- The status of the superintendent for Petersburg City Public Schools (PCPS) remains up in the air Friday after seemingly conflicting statements from local and state school officials.

The chair of the school board said that she is on a "leave of absence", while the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) said it is assisting PCPS with a "transition".

For the past week, CBS 6 has been contacted about whether the superintendent, Dr. Tamara Sterling, was still with PCPS. Sterling was selected for the role in September 2022 by the school board and officially started in December of that year.

Her biography is still listed on the school website as of Friday afternoon, but a LinkedIn profile with the same name and information states that her work with Petersburg ended in February 2024 and that she is now an "independent education official." It does state which specific day this occurred on.

A Feb. 14 Facebook post on PCPS' page congratulated Sterling for achieving national certification and Sterling was present at the PCPS Feb. 21 board meeting.

CBS 6 has tried for several days to contact the superintendent, members of the school board, and the school spokesperson for clarification, but never received a response.

Reporters even went to school offices on Thursday and Friday, but were told the spokesperson and superintendent were not available.

Petersburg Schools Superintendent Dr. Tamara Sterling
Petersburg Schools Superintendent Dr. Tamara Sterling

Then on Friday afternoon the school system released the following statement from School Board Chair Kenneth Pritchett:

"While it is not our practice to comment on matters regarding specific personnel, we feel it is necessary to respond to misinformation circulating in our community. Dr. Tamara sterling has neither submitted a formal resignation nor been terminated by the PCPS board. She is on leave at this time. We will provide an update as soon as one is available and appropriate to do so."

CBS 6 asked follow-up questions about when the leave of absence began, how long it is supposed to last, and who is in charge of PCPS in the interim, but have not received a response.

Then, around 5:30 p.m., the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) released this statement:

“Petersburg Public Schools and School Board have contacted the VDOE regarding guidance as they move through this transition. The Department has responded to help the School Board support school division operations. In addition, Petersburg City Schools is an MOU school division, and VDOE is working closely with school board leadership as this transition occurs. Dr. Quentin Ballard, the Director of the Office of School Quality, is working directly with the school board to provide shoulder-to-shoulder assistance to ensure that VDOE is able to support the division fully.”

When CBS 6 asked VDOE about their discussion of a "transition", while PCPS' statement mentions a "leave of absence" a spokesperson replied that "the School Division’s statement stands on its own regarding the Superintendent’s status."

Phone calls by CBS 6 to Dr. Sterling have not been returned.

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