Thursday, May 28, 2015

C. J. Huff to teachers:I was not fired

The following e-mail was sent to teachers this morning by Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff who earlier today announced his "retirement:

Last night I spent two hours staring at a blank piece of paper trying to figure out what to say to the most amazing group of people I’ve ever had the privilege of serving. Over the next few days, the rumor mill is going to fire up. We’ve seen it time and again. I want you to hear from me first these words that I have so struggled to find up to this point. In short, it’s time for me to step aside. 

At the Board meeting Tuesday night, I submitted my retirement letter to Joplin Schools Board of Education effective June 30. I was not fired, disciplined, given an ultimatum, or asked to resign. This was my decision, and one that I have been considering for the last several months based on two primary factors. First, I love my family dearly and have missed them greatly. They miss me too. It’s time to be a dad and husband again. Second, I’ve had many opportunities in recent months to visit with my principals, as well as many, many teachers and support staff. It is crystal clear, Joplin Schools is on the right track, and, without question, you’ve got this.

Over the last seven years, I have been witness to unprecedented acts of determination, compassion, faith and love…not only for our children, but also for one another. To say the last four years have taken a heavy toll on all of us would be an understatement. We’ve been through a lot together. I can’t imagine a school district anywhere in this great nation that has accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. You stayed the course. You never waivered in your commitment to the children of Joplin Schools. That has been your focus…no matter what.

Simultaneously we have faced the most costly tornado in our nation’s history, the worst economic disaster since the great depression, and the most significant AND arguably the most controversial national education reform movement in decades. It was no small task by any measure, and the bottom line is we got through it together.

I’d ask that you t ask that you take a step back this summer, take a deep breath, and look around you. What we have done together can never be taken away. Nor can what you have done individually - the sacrifices you have made, your collective commitment to excellence under extreme circumstances, your willingness to take risks, your patience, your understanding…always hopeful, always looking ahead, striding towards the finish line of a recovery effort that has been a marathon at a sprint pace. We’ve crossed that finish line.

More important than the construction we have all endured that has resulted in many beautiful buildings and additions is the programming we have put in place. The joining together of JHS/FTC and the unique programming opportunities is truly a one-of-a-kind learning experience for our kids. This along with the strong partnerships we have created within our community ensures the long-term continued progress towards our vision of college, career, and civic ready graduates. From a systems standpoint, everything (and I do mean everything) from the great work of our support staff, to the work of our Parents As Teachers program, to our preschool, through the work of our elementary and middle schools is lined up with our expected outcomes for our graduates. I’ve seen it first hand. What you have done and are doing is amazing.

Karen Evans, Joplin Schools 2015 Teacher of the Year, sent me an email yesterday that says in a two sentences what it has taken me this long to articulate (Karen…forgive me, but it’s worth sharing).

“When you look back over the last four years, you can see how all the changes to our district, good and bad, are all working towards the good. I always remember that the hardest things I go through result in the best thing that ever happened to me.”

– Karen Evans, 2nd Grade at Kelsey Norman


I think we would all agree these are wise words and a good reminder to us all. To my Joplin Schools family, I want you to know that, as an educator, you have all been the best thing that has ever happened to me. In closing, I love you all. Thank you for the many words of encouragement, the hand written notes, emails, phone calls, etc. We propped each other up when we could have easily fallen apart. My family and I are committed to Joplin. My children attend the best schools in the country and are taught by the best educators in the world. I can assure you I will be there every step of the way cheering you on. 

Stay the course.
 CJ 

-- Dr. C.J. Huff Superintendent Joplin Schools 3901 E. 32nd Street Joplin, MO 64804 (417) 625-5200

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Editing a comment to the previous posting, from the board's posture to Huff's motivations:

The date he's leaving, a month from now with no assurance let alone likelihood that the board will be able to hire a replacement by then, makes it pretty clear Huff's statement is not entirely true; if he was both good and cared about the fate of the school district he'd stay for the transition to a new, permanent superintendent.

Anonymous said...

Over the last seven years, I have been witness to unprecedented acts of determination, compassion, faith and love....

I don't know about you, but I'm under the impression that the Joplin 2011 tornado was not the first that devastated a community and/or a school district, and that Americans routinely respond to natural disasters with "acts of determination, compassion, faith and love". It doesn't take anything away from what we did that evening and after to realize that we're not that special of a snowflake.

Ah, I bet that Dr. Fort will soon get her wish that we stop talking about the tornado and focus on the here and now, and future.

Anonymous said...

Blah blah blah....you were asked to leave. Spin it any way you want Mr. Huff...you're fired.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised he didn't mention the pleasure he got from spending millions of tax dollars in a frivolous manner.

Anonymous said...

See you later, jerkwad!

Anonymous said...

Contracts aren't usually bought out if one retires.....right or wrong? (serious question)

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious. You all got what you wanted and now the guy can't even resign/retire/quit/get fired to your satisfaction.

Anonymous said...

His contract was not bought out. Randy was incorrect on that.

Anonymous said...

Troll

Anonymous said...

I'm very curious what Randy will write about now. It's got to be one of those surreal moments where you get the very thing you want, but then you find yourself unsure of what to do next...

Anonymous said...

Who are you to tell us what we want? We wanted many things, from Huff being put in stocks on the village green with piles of over-ripe tomatoes handy, all the way down to just stopping his lying, but it's clear we're not going to get either or anything in-between.

And we're going to living with the mess he created for years, there's no guarantee it'll all get fixed, and in the meanwhile he's damaged the education of thousands of kids and got rid of hundreds of teachers who might otherwise help recover.

Hah, we're going to go from his blaming the tornado for the district's problems to others blaming him!

Anonymous said...

Change is coming.....but not like Debbie, Jennifer and Jeff think it will.

Randy said...

The fallout from this is going to be going on for quite a while. We have a district in financial trouble with some upper administration officials who are not qualified for the jobs they hold. But even when all of this is over, the Turner Report was around for 10 years before I started writing about C. J. Huff. The news continues. Education across the U. S. and in Missouri is still facing serious problems, most of them government-inflicted, and heaven help us, there are always politicians to write about.

Anonymous said...

No, I'm pretty satisfied ;)

Anonymous said...

Things Randy will be writing about, besides, you know, the city's response to the tornado and whatever its audit reveals, will include:

The board's attempting to appoint two new members.

The fighting between Landis and perhaps Banwart and the "anti-Huff 3", and if any new board members are appointed, them.

The appointment of an interim superintendent. And what that person does.

The search for a new, permanent superintendent, which could be very hard, this is a real "fixer upper", and---well, the first question I'd want a good answer to from any candidate is can they efficiently fire people.

Attempts to stem the bleeding, financial and educational, no doubt lasting long after the new permanent superintendent is hired. And maybe needing to replace him if he turns out to be a dud (there's a huge mismatch between the number of these positions in the US and those who can actually do the job and are willing to).

Who gets fired, demoted or promoted in the administration building.

The fate of Huff's "spies" in the individual schools, and others who can't do their official jobs well.

What the district's finances really look like, and how it will try to dig out of that hole.

The progress and fate of the several lawsuits against the district.

And Huff has just surrendered most of his power to punish others, and all of it come July. As his sycophants hopefully get their just rewards, well, we're going to be hearing a whole lot more about how the district has been run (into the ground) over the last decade or so.

That's just off the top of my head in 5 minutes, I'm sure I missed a lot.

Randy would rather be teaching students in a functional school district that hadn't been hit with a tornado, but as a journalist he's almost certainly in the most target rich environment of his life.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty presumptuous to say that Randy is unsure of what to do next.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if something negative was "discovered" or "revealed" recently. Closed session, Randy Steele suddenly resigns, Huff "retires".

Anonymous said...

"Stay the course."

Says Edward John Smith Huff.

Anonymous said...

No sympathy for Huff. He ruined so many people's lives and never cared. People that didn't deserve what they got. He ruined the district academically and financially. His remarks were to ease his own conscience
And no other reason. The people he consulted said what he wanted to hear because if they didn't the axe would come down. Now someone is going to have deal with the weak principals and administrators at the admin. Building along with cutting back all the admin. Building positions that shouldn't exist. Huff has been a failure and he still can't face it.

Anonymous said...

How can Mr. Huff refer to "the most amazing group of people I have ever had the privilege to serve" when there are probably not very many left from when he began the job? The sound of his statement infers that he has worked with a stable set workforce developing working relationships towards dedicated common goals and performance, when in fact he has stimulated huge employee turnover and firings and called a former principle a failure in public. That group of people he mentions must be the former school board members. He only quit because he knows he can't get his way on everything any more. There are probably additional reasons, but that is the main one. Huff is one of those types that will always see himself as indispensable. I have been around long enough to know indispensable does not exist.

Anonymous said...

Hooray! I'm thrilled that this asshat is leaving the district.

Anonymous said...

CJ to his battered district:

'You know I love you baby, all these haters just want to tear us apart. They ain't know what we done been through baby. Yeah you know all those lil misunderstandings was just cuz I care too much, I gotta go now. But you know we'll always have that special day in May.'

Anonymous said...

That is totally offensive!!!!

Anonymous said...

It just wouldn't be CJ if he hadn't told another lie. There is no way he retired from Joplin R-8. He doesn't have the age + years of service combination to retire. So, if he didn't get fired, either he resigned or was given the opportunity to resign. Either way, good riddance.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed that someone would take the time to post a comment(s) that have absolutely no fact base behind such comment(s). Why waste your time & everyone else's just to make a hateful uneducated comment? In my opinion,all it does is take away from your original statement of a fact, or educated comment,you or a prior community member, were trying so hard to get across to the forum. Again,in my opinion,when you make such a "cutting" comment,all you do is fall into a "mob type mentality" & come across as uneducated. Clearly there are a lot of hurt,to say the least, & raw emotions left exposed. Sadly,the citizens & tax payers,of the R8 district, will never get all the answers they deserve or feel they deserve. That's unfortunately true in a lot of the choices our elected officials make for each of us. But now is the time for everyone to STOP the finger pointing,pushing blame & lowering your standards,by the senseless "name-calling" & "personal attacks " on the above mentioned grown adults,who were elected or appointed. Our actions on election days,board meetings & word of mouth,as tax payers & proud citizens,will carry a greater amount of weight,if we do so like adults,mom's,dad's,business owners,consumers & students! The list goes on & on! Lets show our pride & steadfastness in the days to follow with dignity & self respect! This is just one man's opinion,who has lived almost five (5) decades,in this proud city,we call Joplin. Please,this is only my opinion. I truly don't want anyone to waste space on here just to pick apart or spew venomous comments about what I've stated. I showed everyone here the same respect. May God continue to bless all of you. Be Safe Joplin.