Head of city schools fires chief technology officer, human resources director

Pair criticized for problems with costly computer system

December 16, 2003|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

Two top Baltimore school administrators were fired Friday by new schools chief Bonnie S. Copeland, who appears to be continuing a housecleaning of staff who served in key positions during the administration of former Chief Executive Officer Carmen V. Russo.

School officials declined comment on why Joseph Kirkman, chief technology officer, and Shelia Dudley, director of human resources, were let go, but spokeswoman Edie House said they worked at the discretion of the CEO. "You want to put in place your team," House said.

Kirkman, who was paid $140,000 a year, and Dudley, who made $125,000, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Since Copeland took over in July, she has hired a new chief financial officer and chief operating officer. The school board voted last week to make Rose Piedmont the permanent CFO. The new COO is Carlton G. Epps Sr., who was appointed in October. Mark Smolarz had been the chief operating officer until July, when he was reassigned as chief financial officer. He left the system in October.

In addition to the changes among higher-placed school system staff, hundreds of administrators -- many from the schools' North Avenue headquarters -- have been let go in an effort to reduce a $52 million deficit.

Only three top-level administrators, including the district's No. 2 official, Chief Academic Officer Cassandra Jones, remain from the Russo administration. The former CEO left the system on June 30.

Kirkman and Dudley, who were hired by Russo, had come under increasing criticism for problems associated with the installation of a $16 million computer system designed to make the payroll, staffing and budgeting functions run more smoothly.

The school system is now over budget and six months behind schedule. House said yesterday that the system will not be ready Jan. 1 as promised because it needs further work.

Kirkman had estimated that the glitches would cost the school district tens of thousands of dollars for each month full implementation was delayed.

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