BERKELEY -- Teachers and parents clobbered the school board with criticism Wednesday night over its new superintendent choice, claiming his training favors a corporate management style and that he opposes same-sex marriage.
But Edmond Heatley's former boss at the school district where he worked near Atlanta until announcing his resignation Aug. 31 said he did a great job there, and she's sorry to see him go.
Berkeley's board announced Aug. 31, that it had narrowed its choice to Heatley, an ex-marine, but had not yet signed a contract with him.
Before allowing 30 minutes of public comment on the subject Wednesday night, Berkeley school board chair John Selawsky said he and his colleagues will look further into Heatley's background before signing him.
"We are continuing to do due diligence and we are going to take additional time and slow down the process," Selawsky said. "We have not put an end to it, but we are going to slow down."
Cathy Campbell, head of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers representing 850 educators, spoke against Heatley because of his affiliation with the Broad Superintendents Academy, which critics say teaches corporate management styles, favors charter schools and favors tying teacher pay to student test scores.
"In districts where Broad-trained superintendents have been hired, there is a pattern of adversarial and unproductive relationships with teachers unions," Campbell said.
In the memo, Heatley said "the ideal learning environment for children is within a nurturing home governed jointly by a mother and a father as primary educators of their children."
Sarah Cline, who heads the Berkeley High Jazz Program, and the mother of two kids in the district, said someone who is opposed to same-sex marriage is not wanted in Berkeley.
"If you hire Edmond Heatley as superintendent of this school district, that will send a message to my 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son that their family is not as good as other families," said Cline, who is in a same-sex relationship. "Sending that message does not reflect Berkeley's values."
But Pam Adamson, chair of the Clayton County Public School Board where Heatley served from 2009 until announcing his resignation Aug. 31, said he saved the district from ruin.
The district had lost its accreditation due to school board mismanagement but had been restored to probationary status when he arrived, she said. It had lost 3,500 students because of the accrediting problem and had a "huge budget deficit," Adamson said.
"He came to our county when we were in the worst condition, and I've been here for 40 years as a teacher and administrator," Adamson said. "Every year he reduced expenditures. Without losing any major program he was able to make us financially sound again."
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.