Goar out of superintendent search

The interim superintendent removed himself Saturday from the contentious process

Interim Superintendent Michael Goar, center, has withdrawn from the district's superintendent search. Credit: File photo

Minneapolis Public Schools Interim Superintendent Michael Goar withdrew his name from the Board of Education’s contentious superintendent selection process Saturday.

In a statement released by the district, Goar said his candidacy had become a distraction for the district. He had been the runner-up in the Board of Education’s superintendent selection process and appeared poised to win the job when the board terminated contract negotiations with their top pick, Sergio Páez, earlier this month.

The board plans to discuss next steps in the superintendent selection process when they meet Tuesday in Committee of the Whole.

Goar made his announcement in a letter to Board of Education Chair Jenny Arneson. He has led the district since former superintendent Bernadeia Johnson resigned just over a year ago, and he will remain interim superintendent until Johnson’s permanent replacement is in place.

Executive search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates led the search process that produced three finalists for the superintendent position: Goar, Páez and Houston-area schools administrator Charles Foust. Páez won votes from six out of nine board members on Dec. 7, and Goar took the other three.

But a report on abuse by staff members working with disabled students in Páez’s former Holyoke, Mass., district — released less than 48 hours after the vote — put his future with the district in peril. The board first moved to pause contract negotiations in December, then cut ties with Páez completely at a Jan. 12 meeting.

When, at that same meeting, a majority of the board appeared ready to offer the job to Goar, protesters rose up and disrupted the meeting.

A group of about 25 people, including Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy Pounds, questioned Goar’s leadership as interim superintendent. He has been criticized for his handling of episode involving a controversial literacy curriculum and changes to the district’s citywide autism program.

It’s not clear which direction the board will head in now, but they had also discussed reopening the search process during the Jan. 12 meeting. At least one board member, Rebecca Gagnon, and several community members expressed support for placing Chief of Schools Michael Thomas in the post.