Grier getting an early start (SD U-T)

From today’s San Diego Union-Tribune (make sure you look at the comments if you click on this link):

New schools chief meets community half a year before job begins

January 22, 2008

HOWARD LIPIN / Union-Tribune

Terry Grier (right), the new San Diego Unified School District superintendent, spoke with board member Robert Robinson after a community breakfast yesterday.

San Diego’s newest superintendent has made the rounds at a whirlwind pace since the school board voted unanimously to hire him Saturday.

Labor leaders, mayoral candidates and education advocates have all had something to say to the next schools chief. He has even received advice on where to find his native North Carolina barbecue here.

Terry Grier is plotting his introduction to the community and school system. It probably will be an abbreviated reception overshadowed by looming budget cuts, tense union talks and plenty of analysis of district programs.

Although Grier won’t officially start his job until July 1, he plans to make several working trips to San Diego in the interim. He’s also developing what he calls a “100-day entry plan.”

“I want to hear what people have to say,” Grier, 57, said after a community breakfast in Encanto to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights legacy. “But then you have to check to see if the perceptions match up with the facts. Our perceptions are not always true.”

Grier will leave his post as superintendent of North Carolina’s 71,400-student Guilford County Schools to take the helm of the San Diego Unified School District and its roughly 135,000 students. He will replace Carl Cohn, the self-professed peacemaker from Long Beach who stepped down from the position last month – about two years shy of his contract – after losing interest in the job.

A career educator, Grier is well-regarded for his work in reducing high school dropout rates with innovative programs for at-risk students. Among them are special schools that boast classes of no more than 15 students and evening schools for working students.

Grier also has generated controversy by creating an incentive-pay program aimed at wooing top teachers and principals to hard-to-staff schools.

He said there are no plans to immediately scrap local programs or wholly import Guilford County programs. But because the two districts face many of the same problems, Grier said, he will draw on his successes.

“I’m going to want to keep programs that work, those with evidence that they work,” Grier said.

Grier wants to take a hard look at secondary schools, saying that middle and high schools need to do better. That means figuring out how to work with students who can’t read at their grade level and carefully selecting their teachers and principals.

In particular, he said, principals often are hired based on their success as teachers.

“We need to make sure we are hiring people who like working with adults – parents, teachers, faith communities – not just children,” Grier said.

Grier also wants to talk with the teachers union about ways to give district-run schools the same kind of freedoms and innovations that independent charter schools enjoy.

“Charter schools are not going to go away in San Diego,” he said. “If the union continues to dig its heels and not be flexible in meeting the needs of children, charter schools will continue to grow.”

The San Diego school district’s new superintendent must grapple with deep funding cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for fiscal 2008-09. The budget will be “a huge challenge” that will include making reductions, Grier said.

Along with his wife, Nancy, Grier spent the holiday weekend at the Tower 23 luxury hotel in Pacific Beach. It’s a place their four grown children would love, Nancy Grier said.

But most of the couple’s time was occupied by meetings, dinner parties and tours.

“I really believe the success of our school district will be determined by the relationships we forge,” Grier told the crowd at yesterday’s breakfast.

He expressed eagerness in addressing many of the concerns he fielded over the weekend, including the persistent achievement gap between students of different races and economic backgrounds. But Grier said high-achieving populations will not be ignored.

“We spend too much time labeling kids,” he said. “They are all our children. Instead of worrying about how much we put in each bucket, let’s make sure all their buckets are full.”

Grier plans to hold forums throughout San Diego to meet parents, teachers and residents. After sensing that many San Diegans are hard-core sports fans, he said he can steer the conversation if need be.

“I’m a Tony Gwynn fan, and (Chargers quarterback) Philip Rivers is a North Carolina alumni,” Grier said with a subtle Southern twang. “I predict a smooth transition.”


E.C. 🙂


21 Responses

  1. This makes me want to throw up. You know?… he will not continue on this path and get by with it. I have all of the faith in the world that Terry Grier is on the verg of discovery. Not just here, but soon in San Diego as well.

    This is the dirtiest situation I’ve seen in years. I would provide examples, but I don’t want to start a political blog war.

    I honestly believe that I will soon be able to sit back and smile as this worm becomes transparent.

    So, my question about children was answered here. Now… Did ANY of his kids go to a public school HE was a superintendent in?

    I doubt it.

  2. sorry for the typos

  3. This is an open forum, User, speak your mind.

    BTW, I would love to talk to you more offline about one of your previous posts, could you e-mail me direct when you have a chance:

  4. This is exactly what I was afraid of – Terry Grier is preparing for his next job on our dime. And the Guilford County School Board does nothing about it.

    Even though he has signed a contract with San Diego, Dr. Grier will continue to collect a Guilford County Schools paycheck perhaps as long as through the end of June. From reading this article, it sounds like he’ll be spending that time preparing for the San Diego job.

    This is simply unacceptable, although it’s what I would expect from Alan Duncan and the school board. We need a superintendent whose sole priority is the Guilford County Schools. Dr. Grier should have been relieved of his duties the moment he accepted the San Diego job, and an interim superintendent should have been appointed.

  5. Why is Terry Grier still here? Doesn’t our school board have the cajones to tell him that he can leave now? What a great country where you can draw a substantial paycheck from two different employers at the same time. Where I used to work, when you resigned, you were expected to leave asap. In the cases that I saw where a person bridged jobs in this manner, it did not work out, and the employer learned to never do it again.

    You’ve got to hand to ole Terry, though. It may be possible to fool all the people all of the time, after all.

  6. It’s disgusting, if you ask me. I mean, this transition trumps everything else on Saturday’s retreat agenda, and I’m actually shocked that it is not on the agenda.

  7. Wow, Grier got a sweet deal — on two school districts rolls at the same time. Does the GCS Board actually think that he is devoted only to GCS when he told the San Diego press and community that he plans to make several working trips to San Diego in the interim. He’s also developing what he calls a “100-day entry plan” and plans to hold forums throughout San Diego to meet parents, teachers, and residents.

    This trusting, naive(?) school board needs to step up and start thinking about GCS — and not about whether they may be hurting Grier’s feelings/resume! Just cut the strings now. What kind of “leader” are we going to have for the next 6 months when he’s trying to “innovate” for his new position?! Get someone on board in the interim and let Grier go NOW.

  8. BUT, if the school board “relieves” Grier of his contract, they’ll have to pay a big price.

    Grier has the best of both worlds right now – something referred to as “double dipping”.

  9. Well, relieving him could be less expensive than allowing him to remain and finish off our schools. He needs to get out.

    Isn’t there some sort of breech of contract with this behavior? We DO pay his salary, these things should be of public record.

    We have a RIGHT to know.

  10. PS! SD is paying him 1000.00 per day on his “100 day entry” into San Diego Schools. $100,000.00 before his butt ever hits his corner office chair or ever leaves GCS.

    I’m sure he’s reading these blogs and smiling wondering what took us so long to figure out what he was up to.

    He knew he had to get out. I just don’t understand how he can be contracted with GCS AND San Diego at the same time. I would like to see this contract.

  11. Eric,
    I’ll get with you as soon as I can. I’m overloaded, but this blog has become important to me. It’s 1:15 AM, and the first opportunity I’ve had to review the activity here.

    I can’t even tell you how glad I am to see people opening up.

    You’ve asked for input from community, from teachers, I would like to see a board specifically dedicated to affected parents and kids. Then spread the word.

    That’s where the meat and all of the truth lies. Parents and kids have had nowhere to turn and if you ever listen to some of these students as I have so intently, you would be absolutely shocked at what’s happening inside these gang nests that Terry Grier has created, ( and will soon be leaving us to deal with) all along calling them “schools”.

    Parents are afraid that if they speak up their kids will suffer the consequences. Happened to me until I challenged them repeatedly. One person is an annoyance, many parents eventually become effective.

    I’ll get in touch with you soon. I have had so much going on, my work will suffer if I don’t catch up. I’m not ignoring your request. I look forward to the opportunity.

  12. I don’t know what type of buyout Dr. Grier would get if the school board told him to leave now. But don’t forget – Dr. Grier is under contract to GCS for another two years. I’m thinking the school board could work out some sort of agreement to forget about those last two years if he’ll leave now with no further compensation.

    However, this is exactly the sort of thing that the school board should have been worked out a long time ago. The school board should never have signed a contract without clearly spelling out what would happen if Dr. Grier took another job. The board has a well-compensated attorney who is supposed to handle this sort of thing.

    Alan Duncan told the News & Record that the school board is going to “straighten out what our relationship with Terry is going to be.” In my opinion, they should’ve had a plan in place even before Grier signed with San Diego. Looks like he’ll be collecting a Guilford County paycheck to work on his “100-day” plan for San Diego.

  13. Talk about two golden parachutes! Mom23, welcome to the forum, I’m glad you’re here.

  14. Exactly, Mom23, GCS DOES have a well compensated attorney, you can know well that if the actually wanted him out during this time, they could get him out.

    We should be able to see a copy of that contract. As tax payers we should be able to see anything that they do and have a right to help in the decision to get him out or let him stay.

    Since not many are really impressed with what he’s been up to which has been not much more than getting paid, I don’t think there would be much question as to what the people he actually affects, would want.

    We need to put the pressure on and get him out of here. There’s power in numbers.

  15. Let’s face it, he will never suffer even if we stopped paying him today.

    SURELY we won’t have to continue to pay him for TWO YEARS????

    There is NO WAY! There HAS to be some sort of protection for us having pay the worm for two more years! Surely he can’t sit in SD with a new job, no longer working for GCS and get paid from us from here for two years!

    He wasn’t fired, as he should have been…. he CHOSE to leave, used our parents to GET the damned job and now we’re going to pay him for two years to do it?

    Where is this contract?

  16. Sorry for the confusion – I think it’s my fault. He wouldn’t get paid for two years. He would only get paid until July 1st, when he officially starts in San Diego.

    However, my point was that Dr. Grier has two years left on his contract with GCS. The school board should tell him that if he wants out of his deal to take the San Diego job, he should leave now, rather than continue to get paid until July 1st.

    Personally, I don’t want Dr. Grier to suffer – I have nothing against the man. I just don’t think it is fair to us for him to receive a Guilford County paycheck to work on his plans for the San Diego schools. Furthermore, the people of Guilford County need a superintendent whose focus is on their schools and their children, not a lame duck whose primary concern is his next job 3,000 miles away.

  17. User,

    Grier’s contract is on file at the DPI office in Raleigh, and is a matter of public information.

    If our board had a leader and some courage, he would tell Grier that he is relieved from his duties here at GCS to go on to his job in San Diego now. If he doesn’t like it, he can file a lawsuit. If he wants to spend his own money to fight the decision, so be it. GCS’ highly-compensated paid-by-the-hour attorney can fight it in court, while the rest of us go about our children’s lives and educations.

    Frankly, I’ve never heard of a person who takes another job while under contract with one employer, and then want to continue while under contract with someone else. I would think that his contract would specify that GCS must be his sole employer, and he would be restricted from working for another district while under contract. This is not his usual outside consulting job, but then maybe it is. Grier had a sweet deal on his outside consulting which allowed him to do pretty much whatever he wanted to do without any approval form GCS.

  18. Just saying- thank you for the clarification.-

    Stormy, I was just in Raliegh yesterday! I wish I would have known. I do have some friends there, in Chapel Hill and Raleigh who are attorneys.

    I’m going to see if it’s possible to get this contract to the general public via publication here in GSO.

    Thanks for the information. I simply must see this contract for myself.

    And Stormy, please, suffer? He’s positioned to make a HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS before his but ever hits the seat in SD. He attaches nice little titles to everything he does “100 day entry” he calls this one, or something to that effect.

    I kinda like ” I’m gonna puke on your shoes”, for a title to what I would like to do for Terry Grier. Even if I puke on his shoes, well, even that will be “for the children” (then there will be that little matter of personal gratification) I’m sure Terry can relate.

  19. User,

    just saying said that he didn’t want Grier to suffer, not me. I’m in on the puking on his shoes. Grier has earned a ton of puke in his eight years in Guilford County. This was the only superintendent job that he has ever had where a coalition of board members, parents and teachers didn’t run him out of town. He had excellent protection here from the establishment, but I guess his usefulness had run its course.

  20. User,

    Here’s the location to get information on Grier’s contract.

  21. I just think we can separate personalities from job performance and talk about these things without making it personal. It seems like that’s the kind of forum Erik is running here – tough but fair.

    Like I said, I don’t have anything against Terry Grier personally. He may very well be a good guy. I don’t wish anything bad on him. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take a critical eye to his job performance – and I do think he failed in a number of key areas, particularly student discipline.

    And I have a big problem with the idea that he’s getting a Guilford County paycheck to prepare for his next job. No way that should happen.

    According to this week’s Rhino Times, “Grier’s contract is silent on how it would be terminated in the case of his resignation.” To me, this says that the school board, and their highly-paid attorney in particular, really dropped the ball when they negotiated Grier’s contract. School superintendents change jobs all the time – the school board (and their attorney) should have anticipated this might happen and written some language into the contract that would have addressed this situation.

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