Cincinnati school board holds closed-door meeting amid superintendent controversy

A letter from the union representing CPS administrators cites ‘culture of intimidation and fear.’
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 5:49 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 20, 2023 at 9:04 AM EDT

CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The school board for Cincinnati Public held a special meeting Monday with an executive session where members considered the “employment of a public employee or official.”

School leaders did not name the employee they discussed privately.

Board President Ben Lindy opened the public meeting portion by addressing the current dispute between Superintendent Iranetta Wright and the Cincinnati Association of Administrators and Supervisors.

“We have always been a district known for its collaboration. we will continue to collaborate as we work through these concerns together with all of our constituents,” Lindy said, reading from a prepared statement. “We are committed to working with our leadership, employees, families, and partners and will continue to work as a team to continue to ensure the students get the education they deserve. We have every confidence that we’ll be able to find a strong path together.”

The meeting came amid controversy over how the district’s new superintendent is doing during her first year on the job.

Wright won the district’s top staff leadership role after a six-month search that included feedback from parents, students and staff as well as other stakeholders.

However, the Executive Board members of the Cincinnati Association of Administrators and Supervisors (CAAS) Union, which represents over 200 administrators, principals and assistant principals, wrote a letter to the school board president requesting a meeting with the entire school board.

Wright has established a “culture of intimidation and fear” in her first year as the district leader, according to a copy of the letter shared with FOX19 NOW by the union’s attorney.

Wright has since responded, writing: “Upon receiving the letter, I sent an update to central office staff and principals, as I believe there were perceived misconceptions about administrative guidelines and directives. In addition, there have been some shifts in operations to improve efficiencies, all designed to better serve students.”

The letter says Wright “embarrasses employees in meetings” and her micromanagement is impeding daily tasks, according to the letter.

“We are contacting you to apprise you of serious ongoing concerns with Superintendent Wright’s performance. Despite our efforts to continue in our historical spirit of collaboration with Superintendents, we are being blocked at every turn. We are asking to meet with the Board in the next few weeks to discuss how to move forward,” the letter states.

The superintendent “has made clear that CAAS or its members are not to interact with Board members. This is contrary to past practice and impedes collaboration that can support programs and enhance outcomes for students and families. Such a position also raises legitimate concerns regarding potential infringement of First Amendment rights.

“Our number one priority is and should be student achievement. However, all of the attention that should be focused on our students is not occurring because of the Superintendent’s creation of a high amount of dysfunction and stress. We are truly concerned about our students as well as the mental health of CAAS-represented employees.”

Read the entire letter here:

You can see statements from Superintendent Wright and Board President Ben Lindy here.

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