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Enfield To Leave Seattle Schools Top Job

Phyllis Fletcher

The Seattle School Board will have to find a new superintendent next year. Susan Enfield is interim superintendent until June. She announced Friday she will not seek or accept the permanent job. KUOW's Phyllis Fletcher reports.


How many reasons will Susan Enfield give for her decision?

Enfield: "None."

But she will talk about the general problem of how quickly superintendents of large school systems leave their jobs these days. She says it's the politics, and how any issue can become highly charged when it comes to kids and education.

Enfield: "Someone once asked me what one of the hardest things about this job is. And one of the hardest things is that I know, in a system of this size, any decision I make is going to frustrate, anger or disappoint someone. And that's hard."

Enfield has approached that differently than her predecessor, Maria Goodloe–Johnson. Goodloe–Johnson said publicly that once she had made a decision, input from others wasn't important to her.

But Enfield changed one major decision this past spring. One of her directors fired the principal of Ingraham High. Parents objected. Enfield reinstated the principal.

In November, Enfield blocked a rule change that would have ended student press freedom in the district, after students complained.

Those are the kinds of public turnarounds Goodloe–Johnson either didn't make, or minimized when she did make them.

Enfield says conversations with board members were not a factor in her decision to leave. But three current board members indicated at a campaign appearance in September that the board should conduct a search. One more would have made it a majority.

The school board was scheduled to decide whether to offer Enfield a job, or open up a search, in January.

Enfield: "I felt that after being in the job by then almost 11 months that either they wanted me or they didn't. Not much more you can do to prove yourself other than that. And so I was clear that I did not begrudge them the need to do a search, but that it wasn't in my best interest to be part of it."

Enfield says her goal is to be a superintendent in another district. She has been living in Belltown, but she and her husband share a home in Vancouver, Washington. He's an engineer in Portland. Enfield says they hope her next job will mean they can both live in the same home.

I'm Phyllis Fletcher, KUOW News.

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