It is difficult to fathom the reasoning behind school Superintendent Richard C. Hunter's seeming determination to secure another three-year contract after his present term ends in July. Certainly Hunter's motivation is clear enough: He wants to keep his job. But why he believes he can do so despite Mayor Schmoke's expressed wish to the contrary is a mystery.
Technically the mayor does not have the power to hire or fire the school superintendent. He does, however, appoint the school board members who do have that power, and it's inconceivable the board would defy the mayor on such a matter. Hunter may have concluded -- erroneously -- that he had sufficient support among board members to override the mayor's objections, or that he could marshal enough community support to force Schmoke to back off. In either case he miscalculated badly, which is perhaps indicative of a striking naivete regarding how this city actually works.
Schmoke, for his part, was unusually blunt in his assessment of Hunter yesterday. He had asked the school board not to renew the superintendent's contract and, in effect, said that since he could no longer work with Hunter, he wanted him out as quickly as possible. So as a practical matter, Hunter's tenure here is already over. The only remaining question is whether he will go quietly or seek to stir up the kind of disturbance that Washington Superintendent Andrew E. Jenkins created last month when he was fired amid raucous demonstrations.