By Constance Wong
Northwest Asian Weekly
Last Friday, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Interim Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield issued a letter to SPS employees explaining that human resources head Ann H. Chan will be leaving due to reorganization. In the letter, Enfield stated, “After five months as chief talent officer, Ann Chan will be leaving the position. I appreciate her guidance during a difficult period for our school district, but I am moving human resources in a new direction.”
Enfield has made other major changes to top positions of the school district. Just a month into her current position, she dissolved other top positions in human resources, in addition to eliminating positions in finance, operations, research, legal, and communications departments.
Enfield is bringing new faces to the fray. According to The Seattle Times, only two out of 10 employees on Enfield’s leadership team have been in their respective positions for more than a year. Enfield has said she wants to focus on moving the Seattle Public School system toward new objectives. New leaders are expected to fuse fresh elements into the executive atmosphere.
“I am focusing on human resources because it is a key part of restructuring our central office to best support teaching and learning,” Enfield stated in her letter. “It is time to closely examine how we are organized, and this starts with human resources.”
Interim Chief Financial Officer Robert Boesche will temporarily lead the human resources department, until a new executive director is hired. Enfield said that a replacement will be found sometime after spring break.
“[The] central office has experienced significant changes in the past several months and I know this decision adds more uncertainty,” stated Enfield. “I appreciate your continued focus on your work.”
The Seattle Public School District stated that it could not release more details regarding Chan’s departure due to personnel reasons.
In a letter to the Seattle School Board, social activist Frank Irigon pointed out that without Chan, there are no Asians or Pacific Islanders in the central administration.
“This is unacceptable because it does not reflect the diversity of Seattle, where Asians and Pacific Islanders are the largest minority population, as well as in the Seattle Public Schools.”
According to the Department of Education Technology Research, Evaluation, and Assessment, which is responsible for official student statistics for the Seattle School District, the district was 44 percent white and 56 percent non-white on October 1, 2010. Asian and Pacific Islander students comprise about 21.5 percent of all students, grades K–12 for the 2010–2011 school year.
Chan’s last day will be April 30.
Both Chan and Enfield were away this week and were not available for further comments.
Enfield took over as superintendent in March after Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson was removed in a 6–1 vote by the Seattle School Board due to a financial scandal. Under Goodloe-Johnson, the small-business contracting program lost about $280,000 within the school district, and another $1.5 million was in question.
Five months ago, Chan was appointed as chief talent officer by Goodloe-Johnson. Chan comes from Chicago Public Schools, where she served 11 years in various positions within its human resource department. She has been the director of human resources operations, human resources manager, and benefits manager. Chan earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Enfield earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at U.C. Berkeley, her Masters in Education at Stanford University, and her Educational Doctorate in Urban Superintendents Program at Harvard University. She served as the deputy superintendent of Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver, Wash., from 2006–2009. ♦
Constance Wong can be reached at email@example.com.