Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson

Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson

Bernadeia Johnson is in good standing with Minnesota’s educator licensing police, but the Minneapolis superintendent still would do well to pay heed to licensing issues.

Two of her three immediate predecessors foundered in part over licensing issues.

Colleague Corey Mitchell reported Friday that the man Johnson hired to serve as deputy superintendent, Rick Mills, wasn’t properly licensed for that job. His title has been switched to chief executive officer because his lack of a license means he can’t supervise other licensed administrators.

Recent history is rife with examples of licensing issues getting Minneapolis educators into trouble.

When Carol Johnson resigned in 2003 as superintendent to take a similar job in Memphis, the school board hurriedly named David Jennings. Upset black activists hurled a slew of arguments against the appointment, but the one that was easier to make stick was one confirmed by state records. Jennings lacked a superintendent license.

In the ensuing uproar, Jennings took himself out of the running even before the board could negotiate a contract with him.

Next up was Thandiwe Peebles, named super in mid-2004. A state review of her credentials found that she needed more coursework to get a superintendent license. That meant she didn’t get a license within the time frame set by the board. Moreover, the allegation by staff members that they were forced to help her prepare schoolwork for a class she took to get her license was one of the issues that prompted a board investigation and her ultimate resignation.

Bill Green arrived next as superintendent, again without licensing but at least with a career as a college professor. Green won a state variance for a year, and ultimately earned his license through an alternative procedure that involved submitting a portfolio indicating he’d achieved the required competencies.

Jennings earlier used the same process to win a license after leaving the Minneapolis district, and was hired to lead Chaska schools.

Mitchell also reported earlier this year that an associate Minneapolis superintendent, Mark Bonine, was working without the required license.