Grosse Pointe Superintendent Speaks, as Parent, to Rochester Board
'You failed,' said Thomas Harwood, who was a candidate for the Rochester Schools superintendent position when Fred Clarke was hired last year.
The leader of Grosse Pointe Public Schools who interviewed last year for the Rochester superintendent job criticized Board of Education members this week for being "maverick and dismissive" in their search last year for a school leader.
"You failed," said Thomas Harwood repeatedly in his three minutes of public comment at the start of the board meeting Monday night. Harwood lives in Rochester Hills and said he was speaking to the board as a parent.
Rochester Superintendent Fred Clarke listened quietly as Harwood addressed the board. Clarke announced last month that he was searching for a new job. He has not resigned and did not respond to Harwood or say anything related to his job search on Monday night.
Harwood said he did not "wish ill will toward Mr. Clarke." And though he was one of six finalists for the job last year, Harwood also noted that he is not interested in Clarke's job.
"I have been blessed with the opportunity to be the superintendent of schools for the Grosse Pointe school system and I have no intention of seeking to leave the position at this time," he said.
Instead, he criticized board members for not doing their "due diligence" in listening to the needs of the community during the superintendent search.
"You became maverick and dismissive in your decision-making process without a true eye on the future needs of this educational community," he said.
"As Stephen Covey was quoted as saying, 'You can't talk yourself out of something you behaved yourself into.'
"Your conduct during this defining moment of time did not meet the expectation that is placed before you with what is one of the two primary responsibilities that you have as elected members of the school board."
"Your role in this process is critical and needs to be considered at a higher level than what has been shown in the past. You failed to use a compass that you were given by this community to set sail on a journey that will continue on the success of this district."
Board members did not respond to Harwood's remarks. When Board President Jennifer Berwick thanked "Mr." Harwood for his comments, he corrected her, noting "Dr."
Harwood was the only member of the public to address the board about their inevitable superintendent search.
Following the news of Clarke's job search last month, the board formed a Transition Committee to work with Clarke on a timeline for when he will finish up his duties in Rochester. The search firm that helped find Clarke has said it will help find Clarke's replacement at no charge.
Clarke was a finalist for a superintendent position with Grant Public Schools in western Michigan; he was not hired for that job.