Rep. Michelle Salzman requests resignation of Escambia County Superintendent
Wear News abc 3 | By Brent Kearney | March 1, 2023
PENSACOLA, Fla. — Rep. Michelle Salzman is requesting the resignation of Escambia County Superintendent Dr. Tim Smith.
The Northwest Florida congresswoman sent a letter to the Escambia County Superintendent and School Board on Wednesday, titled “REQUEST FOR RESIGNATION.” In the following hours, Dr. Smith sent WEAR News a statement saying he will not resign.
Dr. Smith has served as Escambia County Superintendent since September 2020 when he was hired following a majority vote by the Florida School Board Association.
In her letter, Rep. Salzman is requesting Dr. Smith to submit a resignation request with a 90-day notice.
“This notice, if written in the next couple of weeks, would fall in line with the annual review/renewal timeframe for the school board (every June) as well as allow for our Dr. Smith to complete the 2022-2023 school year,” the letter states. “I have had dozens of meetings with various stakeholders and members of our community, to include Dr. Smith, and this request should be no surprise.”
In response, Dr. Smith sent WEAR News this statement:
Because we are truly united for every student to succeed, I will not resign. There is much difficult work to be done, addressing many issues that have long pre-dated my time in Escambia County. We will stay the course and will not lose focus on what is most important, our students. To that end, I would implore our community to support us in this mission, and not make hasty decisions or jump to rash conclusions based on misinformation.
In her letter, Rep. Salzman listed her ongoing concerns that ultimately led to the letter:
- Warrington Middle School grades
- military student access to magnet schools
- student discipline
- Escambia Children’s Trust
- workforce development and mental health/wellbeing of the children
“On several occasions I offered every resource available to create pathways to success for our students in this community,” Rep. Salzman states in her letter. “I provided everything except a signature from our school district. From Triumph dollars, to workforce development partnerships guaranteeing jobs for our graduates, to the Mental Health Task Force’s (who’s sole purpose is to CONNECT resources and collaborate) call to action for the school district to expand it’s footprint to the families in our community, as well as the access to magnet schools for our military families. The list goes on and on, where the community leaders alongside me have literally begged in some cases for our superintendent to take action and he has failed.”Salzman-Resignation-Request
WEAR News has recently reported on several school district topics that have concerned parents, including school violence, a quiz question, book topics, Warrington Middle School, Dr. Smith’s overall leadership and more.
WEAR News reported last week that a school board member recently proposed changing the superintendent position from an appointed position to an elected one.
Escambia County Public Schools received a “B” grade for the 2021-22 school year.
In her letter, Rep Salzman says Dr. Smith’s tenure is a failure the community must own:
This failure is one that the community must own. Dr. Smith’s inability to be effective is not solely on him. Dr. Smith is an incredible educator, a great statesman and I believe to be a wonderful human being. But, it is not the duty of a Superintendent to be any of those things first. It is their duty to lead our school district. The call to change the district’s position on elected vs appointed back to elected is merely a statement that our elected school board cannot as a majority make the decision to terminate the contract. As a leader who strongly supported the appointed superintendent referendum, I always promised my community I would be the first to admit my mistake if the appointed model did not work. Having said that, we have only had one appointment. Before I will support changing the appointed model back to elected, the school board needs to hire a leader who can make progress in the district that will bring trust back into the process, empower our parents and our teachers, as well as provide true community collaboration in our schools. Every day that we prolong this transition to new leadership there is a child who is bullied, a child who drops out, a child who attempts suicide, a child who loses hope. We cannot stall any longer. For the sake of our children’s future in Escambia County, we must have a true leader. If our school board as a majority cannot make this choice for our children, I am asking Dr. Smith to make it for them. Save the taxpayers the time and effort, but most importantly, save our children.
Rep. Alex Andrade provided WEAR News this statement on Salzman’s letter:
That decision rests with the elected members of the school board. I’m cautious to not weigh in on local government hiring and firing decisions in my official capacity. It would feel inappropriate to me to insinuate that the weight of the state is being applied to pressure local elected officials to make decisions that they are in the best position to make. The same voters that put me in my position placed the school board members in theirs.