Cambridge schools superintendent voted out by School Committee

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Dr. Victoria Greer received a “needs improvement” rating last summer before the School Committee voted to not support Greer finishing her contract Wednesday.

Cambridge Superintendent of Schools Dr. Victoria Greer in 2023. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Cambridge School Committee voted 5-2 Wednesday morning in favor of ending Superintendent Victoria Greer’s contract a year early. 

The decision comes after a tumultuous year for Greer, where she disappointed in a yearly review and was under fire from parents about an elementary school teacher she hired.

Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons, who also chairs the committee, and member Richard Harding, Jr. both voted to allow Greer to stay until the end of her contract in June 2025. The other committee members voted to ratify a 90-day termination notice the committee first issued to Greer on May 1.

This means Greer will finish out the school year at Cambridge. In a statement Wednesday night, Simmons said Greer led Cambridge Public Schools out of the pandemic, helped expand public education for all 4-year-olds, and “worked hard” to close achievement gaps.

Last July, Greer received a “needs improvement” rating in her annual review. The School Committee cited concerns in Greer’s hiring processes, her management, and communication with stakeholders, member Rachel Weinstein wrote in her monthly blog.

“After much deliberation, the School Committee decided to part ways with Superintendent Greer, who will wrap up her service this summer,” Weinstein wrote Wednesday. “To be clear, I appreciate that Dr. Greer shepherded our schools out of pandemic-era schooling and oversaw gains in student achievement.”

Greer’s lawyer did not return a request for comment Wednesday night.

‘Dr. Greer’s vetting process failed to catch it’

Greer spent three years at the helm of Cambridge schools. She is now the second consecutive leader to leave the position early. She was named interim superintendent in 2021 after former Superintendent Kenneth Salim resigned ahead of his contract expiration.

Greer’s hiring practices came under scrutiny in part because of Kathleen Smith, the principal at Graham and Parks School. Smith was hired in 2022 after eight years as principal at Underwood Elementary in Newton, where she was the subject of an internal investigation into reports of fear and intimidation.

After a coalition of parents raised concerns about Smith through a petition, the district launched an external investigation in February. Parents wondered how Smith was hired as principal while Newton Public Schools’ internal report described problems with “bullying, professional boundaries, and “climate,” noting “no empathy for staff.”

“Caregivers uncovered Smith’s record at Underwood without significant time or effort, but Dr. Greer’s vetting process failed to catch it. The Superintendent must be held accountable or her failure to uncover Smith’s history of toxic leadership in the hiring process,” parents wrote in a letter earlier this year to the School Committee. “This is an unacceptable failure of due diligence.”

Who will lead Cambridge Public Schools next?

The School Committee accepted a separation agreement Wednesday that details the settlement for Greer. That document should become public later this summer, but committee members were unsure of the details of that process during Wednesday’s meeting without consulting legal counsel.

According to Greer’s contract, she could be owed six months of her salary for early termination “without good cause.” Greer’s contract started at $260,000 in 2023, with a planned 2.5% raise each year. However, the separation agreement could lay out different terms.

Simmons said at the meeting that there will be a “transition plan in place” by the end of June, and the School Committee will hear the plan by June 24. 

“We are certainly committed and will work with great speed to appoint someone in the interim while we’re trying to find a full time new superintendent to take the reins at the Cambridge Public Schools,” Simmons said. “The Vice Chair and I will be exercising all avenues to us, not limited to an internal appointment, as well as looking outside the district for (an) external appointment.”

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