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Dr. Keith Posley begins his tenure as MPS' interim superintendent today. (PHOTO: Milwaukee Public Schools)

Posley steps in today as MPS interim superintendent

After outgoing superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver was unexpectedly released early from her contract by the Milwaukee Board of School Directors at its meeting on Thursday night, interim superintendent Dr. Keith Posley's first day is now today.

Originally, Driver was expected to remain in her position – from which she resigned in April to take a job as CEO of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan – until July 6, at which point Posley, who had been serving as chief school administration officer under Driver, would step in.

Posley was sworn in at City Hall Monday morning by City Clerk Jim Owczarski.

Driver issued a statement Thursday evening, saying, "I love and have given my heart and soul to serving Milwaukee Public Schools and have no regrets. I am disappointed in the way my exit has been handled. It has taken time, energy and attention away from the celebrations our young people are experiencing during this season of celebration, hope and new beginnings."

On Sunday, board member Paula Phillips emailed her own statement to the media, expressing disapproval of the change.

Phillips was the only board member to vote against the change.

"I voted against this motion because the process of identifying and installing an interim superintendent after receiving notice of Dr. Driver's resignation was rushed, sloppy and lacked precedent," Phillips wrote.

"Community members asked to be part of the process and were denied that opportunity. When multiple board members asked about the process and the necessity of moving quickly, others noted that it was important for the incoming interim superintendent to 'own the budget.' However, the past four superintendents who resigned or retired were able to complete their contract until the end of the school year. Albeit it be unconscious, I accredit this to a society that finds it acceptable to ask women to be grateful they are given a leadership opportunity and be gracious in stepping aside while men have every right to lead and hold power."

Phillips added that, "this is a terrible way to treat an employee and I do not believe it was fitting or necessary. ... I have been further disappointed by my colleagues on the board to communicate valid precedent for early departure of Dr. Driver."

In his first statement as superintendent, issued Monday morning, Posley, of course, sought to strike a more positive tone.

"I am excited to begin my work as interim superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools," said Dr. Posley in the statement.

"Nothing is more important than the academic success of our young people. I am prepared to do whatever is necessary to make certain all students have access to opportunities that allow them to experience personal and academic success in Milwaukee Public Schools."

Posley started his 28-year MPS career as a teacher at Benjamin Franklin Elementary, and rose through the ranks to serve as an assistant principal and then principal before moving to central office to serve in a variety of administration positions before becoming Driver's chief school administration officer.

"Public education changed my life," Posley said. "It expanded my world. I want all MPS students to have the same opportunities to grow, learn, and excel. I am dedicating myself to that goal. Working together, we can achieve it."

Posley plans to visit three schools today, beginning at Franklin at 7:30 a.m. and then heading to Clarke Street and then, in the afternoon, Forest Home Avenue.

Posley will serve as interim superintendent until the position of permanent superintendent is filled.

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