Superintendent Daniel Jett announced Monday that he will leave the West Metro integration district after 10 years at the end of the school year when his contract expires.
Jett's announcement came in a letter emailed shortly after the Star Tribune reported Monday that the district's board chair refused to comment on a report that Jett had announced his retirement plans. Jett didn't return a call.
His announcement to leave as of June 30, when he will be 70, follows a tumultuous prior year for the two-school district. Both Jett and the district's sole principal, Kevin Bennett, were put on administrative leaves by the board during investigations. Bennett made allegations against Jett, according to Bennett's attorney.
Jett returned last June after four months away from work, and no disciplinary finding was announced. However, rumors that he would leave surfaced immediately. Bennett had been suspended earlier for several days for several infractions.
Board members refused to comment in the last few days on word that Jett had informed them of his plans not to seek renewal of his contract. His letter to the board is dated last Thursday. Jett made it public early Monday afternoon. The West Metro Education Program's board will meet Oct. 9 to discuss next steps, Chair Helen Bassett said.
The district was formed to promote racial integration of students among Minneapolis and 10 suburban school districts that stretch from St. Anthony to Wayzata. It enrolls more than 1,000 students from 28 member and non-member districts.
The district operates two arts-focused schools, a grade K-3 and 9-12 in downtown Minneapolis and a grade 4-8 in Crystal, that operate as Fair Arts Interdisciplinary Resources School.
Jett was paid $164,921 annually last year. That was $24,000 more annually than his counterpart at the slightly smaller east metro integration district, who was in her second year. It’s roughly in the middle of pay for superintendents whose districts belong to the integration district. He is paid well above the school chiefs of some smaller member districts who are responsible for many more students and staff than the 1,052-student district.
When the board brought Jett back, it retained Antoinette Johns, who has served as the district’s interim superintendent, as a part time administrator.
In a letter to the board, Jett listed as accomplishments the grade reconfiguration of the two schools, stable funding, progress on the achievement gap in reading, a new strategic plan, and teacher training programs. The former Minnetonka superintendent said he was closing 45 years in public education.
"We owe a great deal to Dr. Jett for his vision, his leadership and his commitment to students," Bassett said.
Minneapolis last year discussed pulling out of WMEP, a potentially crippling move, but opted not to do so. Instead, it's pushing for greater enrollment in the integration district of students who are immigrants, qualify for special education services, or are homeless or highly mobile.
(Pictured: WMEP's downtown FAIR School.)