Harford ousts schools chief Firing of Grotsky is expected today after less than 2 years

Neither side will comment

March 16, 1998|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

The Harford County school board will announce today that school Superintendent Jeffery Grotsky has been dismissed after less than two years in office. The seven-member board voted unanimously last week to terminate his contract, Harford sources said.

Grotsky, who receives $105,000 a year and a $375-a-month car allowance, is expected to walk away with at least $210,000, according to the sources. Just 2 1/2 years ago, the Baltimore County school board paid $300,000 to rid itself of then-Superintendent Stuart L. Berger, whose three-year term was marked by friction and controversy.

When asked yesterday about a meeting with the school board last week in which his performance was discussed, Grotsky, 54, who lives in Bel Air, said: "I don't need to discuss that. I have nothing to say at this point." While Harford school board members refused to comment for the record on Grotsky's departure, a Harford elected official who did not want to be identified confirmed last night that Grotsky's four-year agreement with the county was being cut short because of his brusque leadership style with teachers and school administrators.

"Many felt they were not kept up to date, that they were not fully informed of what he was doing," the Harford official said. "They felt they could be caught off guard about things."

A news conference is scheduled this afternoon at C. Milton Wright High School in Bel Air. The school board is expected to announce that Grotsky, who took charge of the school system's 38,000 students in July 1996, would be let go by the end of the month.

An interim superintendent will be named while a search for a permanent chief is conducted, the sources said.

School officials would confirm only that an announcement involving the school system would be made today. They would not elaborate.

"I honestly don't know what the statement will say," said Donald Morrison, Harford schools spokesman.

But a source involved in the Grotsky negotiations said that an amicable departure agreement between the school board and the superintendent would be discussed.

Terry Weaver, president of the Harford County Education Association, said many teachers and school administrators have been unhappy with Grotsky's distant management style.

"He rarely met personally with them," said Weaver, who heads the teachers association, which has about 1,500 members. "He would refer questions to other people on his staff."

Despite the school board's dissatisfaction with Grotsky's performance, the elected official said, "They won't give him a bad recommendation. They were just not happy with the direction he was going in."

This is not the first time that Grotsky has had difficulty with a school board.

In March 1996, the school board in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he had been superintendent since 1991, faulted him for his abrupt style.

The Grand Rapids board voted 5-4 to give him an unsatisfactory rating, prompting speculation that he would be fired. But before the board could convene, Grotsky sent his resignation by fax to members.

Grotsky was one of 49 applicants from 20 states seeking the Harford schools post.

Earlier, he had been one of three finalists for superintendent in Baltimore County after Berger's tenure.

But Grotsky later withdrew his name, criticizing the Baltimore County school board for breaching a pact of confidentiality after his name appeared in an article in The Sun naming him as a finalist for the post.

Pub Date: 3/16/98

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