BOSTON — The Superintendent of Boston Public Schools, Dr. Brenda Cassellius, has announced plans to resign after three years as leader of the state’s largest school system and will address the decision in front of reporters at a news conference scheduled for 10:15 Tuesday morning.
Cassellius will be joined by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, and School Committee Chair Jeri Robinson, according to a news release.
In 2019, Cassellius was named a superintendent. She had previously been the Commissioner of Education for Minnesota from 2011-2019.
In a letter to the BPS community Monday, Cassellius said she will be “...transitioning from my role as Superintendent at the end of the school year.”
“When I arrived in Boston in July 2019, I couldn’t have predicted that eight months later, the world as we knew it would change. Since then, we’ve confronted a global pandemic, reckoned with escalating racial division and civil unrest, and worked to repair community relationships that had eroded trust in our schools and confidence in our city,” said Cassellius. “It is nothing short of remarkable that in the midst of it all, we also developed a community-wide vision for equitable and excellent schools in every neighborhood of Boston, made historic steps forward in expanding access to our nation-leading exam schools. Implemented a rigorous set of high graduation standards for every high school in the district with the adoption of the MassCore, and put in place more just and transparent attendance, code of conduct, student privacy, and grading policies.”
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said the decision came after conversations with Cassellius and School Committee Chair Jeri Robinson over the last several days.
“We have come to this decision after careful deliberation, with mutual respect for all involved, and an acknowledgment that there is much work still to be done this school year and beyond. I am so grateful for the Superintendent’s leadership, especially while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, and her courage in addressing needed structural changes within our district. She has given Boston three years of strong leadership and service, and we are a better city for it,” said Mayor Wu.
“None of this work happens in a vacuum or as the result of one leader. I have been fortunate to work with a talented team of education professionals, school leaders, educators, and central staff personnel who have supported and challenged me and who serve BPS with passion and distinction,” Cassellius said in her letter.
Cassellius had succeeded Laura Perille, former Interim Superintendent and former CEO of the education improvement organization EdVestors. Perille had become the Interim Superintendent following the resignation of Dr. Tommy Chang, who held the Superintendent role for three years.
Boston Public Schools have been facing critical staffing shortages due to COVID-19 cases. Cassellius stepped in to teach a class in early January.
“I have also been blessed to have worked alongside three dedicated mayors who have served as thought partners, mentors, and friends. My full gratitude goes to former Mayor Kim Janey for her leadership during a transition for the city and to Mayor Wu for setting a vision for BPS that puts children firmly at the center. And I am forever grateful to former Mayor Marty Walsh for a phone call more than three years ago that eventually brought me to Boston. His support, wise counsel, and leadership forever changed the course of my professional career,” Cassellius said in her letter. “I am equally grateful to the members, past and present, of the Boston School Committee who have set a high standard of excellence, supported me, my team, and held us accountable to the children of Boston. Their dedication and service, which is often overlooked, gets the recognition it deserves.”
On Monday morning, Cassellius had tweeted about plans for the next school year.
“After this year, we will have student support teams to support our students’ mental health and well-being. We have added full-time nurses, full-time social workers, family liaisons, and next year psychologists and school counselors PK-12,” she said in the tweet.
As for the future leader of Boston Schools, Mayor Wu said in her letter, “I am focused on expanding access to early childhood education, reimagining BPS facilities to advance learning, and ensuring excellence across the district, including in all our high schools. The next senior leader of the district will need to be ready to execute quickly, and I will be working in close partnership with the School Committee to move forward the search process for a permanent Superintendent.”
“I am grateful that Superintendent Cassellius will continue to lead BPS through the remainder of this school year to ensure a strong finish to the semester and a smooth transition for our BPS students, families, and dedicated school leaders and staff. The reforms that the Superintendent will continue to lead during this time will set our course for the coming years,” said Mayor Wu
In her Monday morning letter, Cassellius said, “I am grateful to you - the entire BPS community of families, partners, supporters, and loyal critics - for elevating your voices about the things you care about. Your insight, wisdom, and willingness to share hard feedback made our decisions better and our work more impactful. The passion with which so many in our community speak out, advocate, and stand up for BPS is a reflection of how deeply we care about our students and schools.”
“And most especially, to the students of Boston Public Schools: you are the reason I come to work every day. You have inspired me with your ideas, creativity, resilience, and your voices. I will carry you and your incredible potential with me long after my time in Boston has come to an end. I am beyond proud of your resilience and brilliance,” Cassellius said.
In a statement, Boston School Committee Chair Jeri Robinson said, “Boston owes Superintendent Cassellius a tremendous debt of gratitude for her transformational leadership and service on behalf of the city’s children. Dr. Cassellius has been relentless in her focus on equity, never wavering in her commitment to our students and families. She set an example for those of us who share her dreams that all BPS students have equitable opportunities to achieve success in school and life.”
The Boston Public Schools has more than 54,000 students in 125 schools, according to the district’s website.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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