BERKELEY -- The final candidate chosen to run the city's schools backed out Monday after parents and teachers criticized his publicly stated views against same-sex marriage.
Edmond Heatley, who recently announced his resignation as superintendent of the Clayton County Public Schools near Atlanta, emailed a letter Monday to Berkeley school board President John Selawsky saying he was withdrawing his candidacy, Selawsky said Tuesday.
"It was clear there was going to be a lot of explaining to do, and there were going to be a lot of difficulties coming in," said Selawsky, referring to the uproar over Heatley's 2008 resolution he authored while superintendent of the Chino Valley Unified School District in Southern California urging his school board to take a stand against same-sex marriage, which it did so unanimously.
The resolution was circulated at a school board meeting in Berkeley on Sept. 12 and parents spoke against it.
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."
Selawsky said the revelation of Heatley's views on same-sex marriage made the "odds of a successful superintendency slimmer and slimmer. All of us realized that."
Selawsky said it would have been helpful if the board knew of the memo before it began talking seriously to Heatley about the job. The board has hired a headhunting
"It would have made our job easier if this was disclosed before, but that's the way it is," Selawsky said.
Cathy Campbell, president of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers with 850 members, said "we're pleased at this development, and we think it's a good thing for our community."
She also criticized the school board for choosing Heatley.
"This particular process has highlighted some differences between what the school board is seeking in a candidate and what the teaching, administrative and parent community think we need," Campbell said. "We'll work with the board to try to be really clear about what we need in our next superintendent."
Heatley did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
The search for a new superintendent began in January after former superintendent Bill Huyett announced his retirement effective June 30. Huyett stayed on as an adviser for another 30 days after June 30 for an extra $30,000. Since then the school board has named two co-superintendents to run the show until a new superintendent is chosen.
Deputy Superintendent Javetta Cleveland, who earns $176,670 per year, will get an extra $5,000 per month, and Assistant Superintendent Neil Smith, who earns $154,731 annually, will receive an extra $7,000 per month until a superintendent is found.
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.