The Richmond County Board of Education voted Monday to launch a search for a new schools chief who will take office when Superintendent Frank Roberson’s contract expires in August.
Roberson said he will not reapply for the job, saying that board members electing to open a search rather than extend his current contract hints at their intentions.
However, he said his mission as an educator will not stop.
“There’s a lot in me to do the work of educating children,” Roberson said after the called meeting. “That’s my passion. There’s too much in me to stop now. I’ll have to survey my options, but I do know this: I will continue to provide quality schooling for children somewhere.”
The motion to open a search passed 8-1 after board members spent more than two hours in a closed-door executive session. Board member Patsy Scott voted no, and Marion Barnes was absent. Scott and other board members declined to comment about their decisions.
Roberson was hired in 2010 on a three-year, $170,000 per-year contract, and with a background in school reform, was largely seen as a savior who could rescue the struggling system.
He fell ill six months later with complications from an abnormal clustering of blood vessels on the brain, known as arteriovenous malformation, and had emergency brain surgery.
He was absent for nearly 19 months, returning on a part-time basis in December 2011, and full time in September 2012. Roberson said doctors told his family after his surgery that he would never walk, talk or possibly see again.
The board waited two days before Roberson’s contract was set to expire in August to address his employment, voting 6-4 to extend the contract for one year, rather than renew it for another three.
The vote Monday gives the board time to open a nationwide search for a new leader, which will fall at a time when many superintendent contracts are ending across the country.
Roberson is eligible to reapply for the position along with other candidates, but he said his reading of the vote encouraged him otherwise.
“I’m not criticizing the board, I’m just looking clearly at the action,” he said.