Heated Board Meeting Following Resignation of Albany Schools Superintendent

Albany City School District Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard will resign her post effective June 30 -- which came as a shock to many in the community.

Many made their opinions known at a heated board meeting Thursday night.

"What does philosophical differences mean?" asked Albany Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin.

That question was on many minds after the Board of Education president, Kenneth M. Bruce, said "The board and the superintendent have come to a point where we no longer can overcome our philosophical differences."

The announcement was met with frustration and fury Thursday night. The meeting itself began with a round of boos from many in attendance. Flyers stacked outside the meeting read "Dr. V forced out by five people," followed by a list of five of the board members, Bruce included.

A press release from earlier in the day noted that Vanden Wyngaard will take paid leave from Friday through June 30, as agreed upon by both her and the board.

Vanden Wyngaard's acting replacement will be Kimberly Wilkins, the current principal of Myers Middle School.

"This musical-chairs in the seat of the superintendent of the city of Albany has got to stop," McLaughlin said to the board.

While the decision received some support, the overwhelming majority of speakers demanded answers, accusing the board of institutionalized racism.

Vanden Wyngaard started at the district in September 2012. In recent weeks, her future has been a big topic of discussion for parents, teachers and community groups. As calls grew louder, the board still would not comment on whether they'd renew her contract, that silence drawing droves of supporters at recent meetings, all calling for the board to keep Vanden Wyngaard.

Supporters have said that Vanden Wyngaard, who is currently in her third year, should not have been expected to solve all the district's problems in such a short time frame. They also say changing leadership again disrupts any chance at stability. Under the state's new receivership law, Vanden Wyngaard had been tasked with turning around three schools within the district -- Albany High School, Hackett Middle School and Phillip Schuyler Academy -- all determined by the state to be either "struggling or persistently struggling."

The district is also currently trying to gain public support for its scaled-back Albany High renovation project after a more expensive plan was voted down in November.

The district has since trimmed about $16 million from the proposal, lessening the burden on taxpayers in hopes of getting it passed next month. 

Vanden Wyngaard graduated Kent State University in 1998 with a doctorate. Before coming to Albany, she was a deputy superintendent at a school district in New Jersey.

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