Metro Schools Director Pedro Garcia will get a year’s pay — $216,000 — and money for unclaimed sick and vacation days to walk away from his job after 6½ years.
The school board unanimously voted Saturday to release Garcia from his contract, which doesn’t expire until 2010. Chris Henson, the district’s chief financial officer, was named interim superintendent.
I have tried to be a supporter of Pedro Garcia since he came to Nashville. I was impressed early on by some of what he was saying. Yet his lack of political skills continued to be a source of confusion and his inability to build a team spirit between educators, the school board, and the community was a problem. However, his recent decisions to go public with internal conversations with school board members, and more importantly his unilateral decision to withdraw the rezoning plan that desperately needs to be implemented (leaving the school board as the bad guys) pretty much soured me on Dr. Garcia’s effectiveness in leading the school system.
It must be said that Dr. Garcia did bring some needed improvements to the schools (although I think Sandy Johnson, his former colleague who left a couple of years ago was more responsible as Pedro). However, there are systemic problems that go beyond the operation of the schools and require someone who can motivate the community and the teachers to come together to make change. Pedro had no skills in doing that, and has been extremely weak in hiring a communications staff that could actively assist him in that task. In the end, authoritarian leadership rarely works, and Dr. Garcia is a textbook case in why it doesn’t.