Dana Bedden’s impending departure leaves more questions than answers

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — There are still more questions than answers after Richmond City School Board officials announced they will be parting ways with Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden at the end of June.

The announcement was made Sunday, and some city council members say the school board made the move under a cloud of secrecy. Parents, meanwhile, simply want to know what’s going on.

“It’s a bad move,” Dorothy Scott, grandmother of an RPS student, said outside of Mary Munford Elementary School on Monday. “Why? Because he was a pretty good superintendent. He does try, I give him that.”

Others argue that if the newly-elected school board decided it was time for Dr. Bedden to go, then they believe that is what’s best for Richmond.

“My thought is, I support Liz Doerr. I love everything she had to say when she was running for election, and she felt this was the right course of action, I trust that,” Hillary Szalay told 8News.

Councilwoman Reva Trammel questions the timing of the announcement and said she thought Dr. Bedden was doing a good job.

“I was shocked,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it, I really just cannot believe it.

“And how do you do this in the middle of a budget?” Trammel added. “We’re in the middle of (budget discussions) and where’s the money going to come from to buy him out? He’s going two more years left on his contract and I said, ‘how can you do this?'”

Another city council member, Kim Gray,  was also surprised to learn of the move and says ultimately the students will feel the impact.

“I think when you have an abrupt upset in leadership, the momentum that was behind Dr. Bedden is lost, so that has a lasting impact,” Gray said.

Gray added that it takes two or three years to get a superintendent in a position to implement a plan for the school system. To makes matters worse, the councilwoman said dismissing Bedden could also make it difficult to recruit candidates.

“It sends a message to other superintendents who could potentially come to Richmond that it would not be the safest move for them,” Gray said.

8News spoke with one school board member, James Scott, who said he would prefer to work with Bedden and doesn’t support this approach.

8News reached out to both Mayor Levar Stoney’s office and Dr. Bedden for comment but did not hear back.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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