Petersburg's superintendent's resignation fits pattern of turnover among leaders

Petersburg's superintendent's resignation fits pattern of turnover among leaders

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - The Petersburg school board voted Wednesday night to honor Dr. Joseph Melvin's request to step down from the city's superintendent. Dr. Melvin is the sixth superintendent hired in the past ten years, and his resignation fits into the high turnover pattern for Petersburg school board leaders.

"We are looking for continuous progress," Dr. Melvin said in a previous interview speaking in support of year-round schools.

In August, after a year-round success at A.P. Hill, he said he wanted to introduce the concept at all elementary schools in Petersburg to improve test scores. He wanted to present the proposal in December and get feedback from parents, but in a letter written just Wednesday, Melvin announced his sudden resignation for "personal reasons."

"[There were] a lot of issues to deal with, and he could not successfully handle all of those issues on his own. He needed some help," school supporter Leon Crawley said.

Right now, only one of the city's seven schools is fully accredited. Add to that, a history of superintendents who have come and gone over the past decade. Half a dozen superintendents have been brought in to lead the district. None have stayed for more than three years.

"If you have constant change or constant turnover in the leadership of that school, it will impact the outcomes. It would also impact how people feel about that organization," University of Richmond education professor Dr. Tom Shields said. Shields, who is unfamiliar with the inner-workings of Petersburg's schools, says longevity in leadership is key. He says it's up to the players still on the field to move the ball along.

"If everyone is working together in a team effort, if the leader leaves, that organization should be able to sustain itself and move itself forward," Shields added.

Melvin's resignation is effective October 31st.

Last year, Governor McAuliffe visited Petersburg, saying all schools will be accredited by the time he leaves office. So far, Gov. McAuliffe has not issued a statement on Dr. Melvin's resignation.

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