New leader of Ohio’s schools announces surprise resignation

Posted at 2:48 PM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 14:48:43-04

John Richard, who was slated to serve as Ohio’s interim state school superintendent starting in six weeks, is resigning instead.

Richard, who has been deputy state superintendent for four years, was scheduled take over the top job when current State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria retires on Sept. 24.

But in an email to nearly 20 education stakeholders Tuesday morning, Richard announced that he had submitted his letter of resignation the night before.

“I have a unique opportunity to lead a small, nonprofit organization located in Stark County that works to connect education, business and the community,” Richard wrote. “My roots are in Stark County, having been raised there, started my teaching career there and served as a local superintendent there … I believe it is the right move for our family.”

A news release sent out Tuesday morning by the Ohio Department of Education includes Richard’s resignation letter to ODE, saying that “it has been a privilege to work in an organization constantly striving for improvement,” and adding that the move will be effective at the end of the day Oct. 8.

But Richard’s letter to those education stakeholders indicates his last day actually working at the Ohio Department of Education will be Sept. 24 — the same as DeMaria’s last day.”

Richard was the superintendent of Perry Local Schools from 2005-2013. He has also served as associate executive director of the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators.

“I’m certain this is a surprise on the heels of Paolo’s announcement,” Richard wrote in his email to education stakeholders, “but I have no doubt in the ability of the team at ODE to seamlessly carry on the work in a thorough and effective manner.”

The state board of education last month approved a resolution to make Richard interim superintendent in September, but only after some confused debate.

Board Vice President Charlotte McGuire repeatedly called him “Richardson,” and board members questioned whether the vote was even needed, why Richard would receive extra pay as interim superintendent, and whether the resolution language made sense if he became the eventual long-term superintendent.

The state school board recently has been embroiled in controversy over issues of educational equity and how race is addressed in schools. Richard did not mention any conflict at the Ohio Department of Education in announcing his departure, either to the department or the outside stakeholders.

In his resignation letter to DeMaria, Richard wrote, “I have tremendous respect for you, the State Board of Education and our entire team here at the Department because of the commitment, passion and energy devoted to our students across Ohio.”

The state school board’s next scheduled meeting is not until Sept. 20-21, raising the possibility that a special meeting will be called sooner to identify a new interim superintendent before the Sept. 24 departure of DeMaria and Richard.

This story was originally published by WCPO 9 news partner, the Journal-News.