Arkansas Paper Investigates Griffin

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette is wise to Scottie Griffin’s checkered past, nine days after they wrote that the Charlottesville Superintendent has applied for the same position in Pulaski, Arkansas. Like local media outlets, who often found Griffin scarce as hen’s teeth when interview came time around, the Arkansas paper wrote that Griffin “could not be reached for comment despite calls to her numbers in three area code zones.” They interviewed both City Councilor Blake Caravati and outgoing school board member Bill Igbani for the story.

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3 thoughts on “Arkansas Paper Investigates Griffin”

  1. The Arkansas paper reported more information than our school board knew when they hired Dr. Griffin. Perhaps the “shadow board” should include a few reporters from the Hook and C’Ville.

    “Scottie J. Griffin, for example, was only 10 months into a four-year, $149,000-a-year contract as superintendent of the 4,400-student Charlottesville, Va., City Schools when she submitted her resignation in April.
    Previously, Griffin was an area superintendent over a section of the New Orleans school district for eight months. At the time she left that job she and the district were sued in federal court by Griffin’s former executive secretary who said Griffin required her to perform extra duties and work overtime without compensation.
    Of the candidates, Griffin – who could not be reached for comment despite calls to her numbers in three area code zones – is the latest to emerge from a situation where a superintendent and a school district failed to jibe.
    Griffin initially angered some Charlottesville residents by reassigning a longtime deputy superintendent, then instituted a test-preparation program that was criticized for being too timeconsuming for students and teachers to use, and called for the elimination of counselor and coaching positions to create new administrative jobs, according to local newspapers The Daily Progress and The HooK, as well as interviews with community members.
    Blake Caravati is a member of the Charlottesville City Council, which appoints members to the School Board and has general supervision of the school district budget. He said this week that early in her tenure Griffin made a series of significant personnel and program changes with no discussion and with no direction from the School Board to build community support for those changes.
    “She has a very authoritative style,” Caravati said. “It was completely lacking in the two biggest things that makes Charlottesville run politically and in government – communication and collaboration.”
    Bill Igbani, a member of the School Board, praised Griffin for her intelligence, experience and integrity. He said she always had the best interest of students at heart and that the School Board did not force her to leave.
    “I wanted her to stay but she said she had to leave,” Igbani said.
    “Sometimes you go into a city that you don’t feel comfortable living in. If you don’t feel good, you move on. That’s what I saw in this situation.”
    Griffin worked for 26 years in Flint, Mich., schools but has held six jobs since 1997. She was an area superintendent in the New Orleans public school district from November 2003 to June 2004, overseeing 32 schools serving approximately 18,000 students.
    Just about the time she left the city, Griffin and the district were sued by her former executive secretary, Janice Clay, a retired teacher.
    After two months of working for Griffin, Clay asked for a transfer because of what she said in the lawsuit were intolerable working conditions. Clay accused the district of retaliating against her for demanding overtime pay.
    “Defendant Griffin had continually required Mrs. Clay to perform duties and services that stretched far beyond the parameters of her position,” the lawsuit said.
    “Performance of those extra services had caused Mrs. Clay undue stress and anxiety, all of which had elevated her blood pressure to dangerously high levels. Furthermore, Mrs. Clay was not paid overtime for these extra services.”
    A jury trial in the lawsuit is scheduled for June 6. Roy Rodney Jr., an attorney for Griffin and the New Orleans district in the case, said this week that lawsuits are to be expected in any top-level school district administrator position.
    “It’s a case of a secretary who no longer works for the school district making a complaint against her supervisor,” Rodney said Tuesday. “Frankly, I’m not quite sure why it is such a big deal. A person with Ms. Griffin’s position is going to face litigation when you are dealing with school systems that have thousands of employees. I don’t understand why that should impact any district’s analysis of whether she is ultimately a good administrator.”
    Griffin, now 54, had earlier sued the Flint district, alleging age discrimination, according to news accounts in Charlottesville. That 1997 case was settled out of court in 1999, according to The Daily Progress.
    She attracted news attention in 1994, when about 30 Flint students and two parents picketed an elementary school to remove Griffin as principal. A parent organizer complained to the Flint Journal that pupils were afraid of Griffin and that parental involvement at the school had decreased. The students complained that they were left outside in the cold and not allowed to eat breakfast and that Griffin shoved or hit them or suspended them for minor offenses.
    Griffin denied all of the accusations and said she suspected that they were motivated by a disgruntled employee, according to the newspaper.
    A news article reported several teachers and parents rallying to Griffin’s defense, saying that the school’s atmosphere was much improved under Griffin’s leadership.”

  2. HMMM, looks like someone, I’m looking at you cvillenews readers, tipped off the the Arkansas Democrat.

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