Raskin makes resignation final

Published 1:24 pm Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Austin Public Schools superintendent Candace Raskin’s resignation is now official.

The school board approved her resignation Monday night, more than a week after members learned she had accepted a professorship position at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Raskin had accepted the position Wednesday, April 30 and sent a districtwide e-mail informing staff the next day, when she also met with other administrators. As of Friday, May 9, the board had not received her resignation letter.

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At the meeting Monday, Raskin addressed concerns her resignation would negatively affect the new University of Minnesota Fellowship Program she had spearheaded.

Raskin said she and John Alberts, director of educational services, met with program leaders to ensure the program, which consists of advanced education for 96 teachers, renovated science labs and gifted education, would not deteriorate in her absence.

“Although all of the parties are nervous,” Raskin said, she and Alberts have been working with the Austin Education Association’s executive committee to discuss how the district will need to “provide stable leadership in the future.”

Raskin said two fully-licensed science teachers will be in place for the program at Ellis Middle School and Austin High School next year, and the fall schedule is set. Classroom renovations begin June 9.

“It’s ready to roll,” she said.

The two delegations registered Monday spoke highly of the district and Raskin.

Dan Hernandez, whose son was recently accepted to Harvard University, commended the district for its quality of teachers and programming.

“Thank you to Dr. Raskin and the great teachers in the district,” he said.

Hernandez said he believes Austin has “the potential to be the envy of the state.”

A tearful Allison Smith, a parent who has spoken during every regular meeting since January, said she wanted to express her “appreciation for Dr. Raskin,” who she said “looked me in the eye when she saw me around town.”

“You’re leaving the district better than when you found it,” she told Raskin.

Smith told the board she believes they should work to change their by-laws and code of conduct policy.

Smith has promised to speak at every meeting until the school board situation changes. She believes board member Curt Rude, who is on unpaid administrative leave from the Austin Police Department, should resign or take a leave of absence until a court determines whether he is guilty of felony drug and theft charges.

The school board’s superintendent search plan has already been implemented. During a special meeting Friday, board members outlined a 10-phase template to facilitate the process. Veteran board members Dave Simonson and Kathy Green were appointed to head the search.

Chairman Don Fox said Monday the board plans to confirm its search firm this week and also set a hiring date.

Raskin’s resignation is effective June 30. She has served as superintendent four years, and in other administrative and teaching capacities in Austin for more than 17 years.