Goodsite to school board president: 'I'm confused. What's going on?'

Cary Ashby • Aug 4, 2014 at 11:27 PM

Sue Goodsite was surprised when she learned the Norwalk City Schools board of education changed its mind on offering her the interim superintendent's job.

On Tuesday, the board voted 3-2 to hire Huron resident Will Folger as the interim superintendent. Folger, who has 40 years of experience in education, retired Dec. 31 as the superintendent of Sheffield-Sheffield Lake City Schools after nine years on the job.

Goodsite said board president John Lendrum told her during a phone conversation prior to Tuesday's special meeting that the board planned on offering her the interim Norwalk job while Folger would be the assistant superintendent overseeing personnel.

"I told him (Lendrum) I had no problem whatsoever with that," Goodsite said.

She also remembered telling Lendrum she was "excited the process was over," she "would do the best to my ability" and hoped to be considered for the full-time position once the one-year contract was finished.

Goodsite is under contract through the 2014-2015 school year as the assistant superintendent and director of curriculum and grants -- the same responsibilities she would have had as the interim superintendent.

"I was told I was being offered the superintendent's job," Goodsite said about her conversation with Lendrum, who made it "crystal clear" the job was an interim position.

"Mr. Lendrum told me, 'Remember we are just looking at just one year,'" she said.

Goodsite called Lendrum over the weekend at his request.

"Until Tuesday morning," Goodsite said she was under the impression she had the job.

But then she received a phone message and text from Lendrum requesting she call him. Goodsite called him back.

"He said there had been a change," Goodsite said.

"There was some silence. He said the board would be happy to sit down (with me), but not over the phone," she said, referring to addressing the change in the situation. "My words to John on Tuesday morning after he texted me was, 'I'm confused. What's going on?'"

Lendrum, after Tuesday's special board meeting, said it's not appropriate to comment on why certain candidates didn't get the job.

"I can't fault anyone for voting their conscience," Lendrum said when asked about the 3-2 vote for Folger.

Lendrum, when reached by phone Friday, said he didn't want to comment on what Goodsite told the Reflector without seeing or hearing what her feedback is.

"I've got no comment. I can't control what she's told you or what she's written you," he said.

Board members Steve Linder and Ralph Ritzenthaler voted against hiring Folger. Lendrum, Kevin Cashen and Rob Ludwig were the supporting voters.

Ritzenthaler and Linder have confirmed the board originally intended to hire Goodsite as the interim superintendent and Folger as her assistant.

"They (the board) told her the job was hers," Ritzenthaler said Friday. "They would be working together."

After Monday, when the board interviewed Folger, Ritzenthaler said he decided he couldn't change his vote of support to hire Goodsite.

"Giving your word is a good judge of character and I wasn't about to take anything away from her since she had accepted the job," Ritzenthaler said.

"My vote was no because of the system," said Linder, echoing the message he gave to Folger after he was hired. "Mr. Folger is very smart. It's the process that didn't go well. ... Mr. Folger will do the district well."

"We agreed Sue would get the job," said Linder, who believes there was a communication breakdown.

"We interviewed three candidates twice. I felt Dr. Goodsite interviewed the best, had the best application and the best credential of these three candidates," said Linder, who was surprised Folger was offered the interim job.

The board interviewed Goodsite twice -- on July 15 and 22.

"Sue was impressive during interviews. The only thing she hasn't done was the superintendent's job," Linder said.

Goodsite, when asked about working with Folger, said she is committed to working for the district and doing the best job she can. Folger's contract runs from Friday through June 30.

"This situation aside, I'm committed to working hard for this community. We have a school year to start. Mr. Folger and I have to work together to do what's best for the district," Goodsite said.

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