In May 2019 the Boston Public School Committee voted 5-2 to appoint Minnesoata’s former Commissioner of Education Dr. Brenda Cassellius as BPS’s new school superintendent. At the time Cassellius beat out two other finalists, Oscar Santos, Head of School for Cathedral 7-12 High School in Boston and Marie Izquierdo, Chief Academic Officer for Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida, for BPS’s top spot.
However, on Tuesday Dr. Cassellius sent her letter of resignation to Mayor Michelle Wu and Boston School Committee Chair Jeri Robinson.
Dr. Cassellius wrote she will transition out of her role as superintendent at the end of the 2021/2022 school year.
“Working alongside so many people – parents, educators, community and faith leaders, and philanthropic partners – all dedicated to helping our children achieve their dreams has given new meaning to my vision of all hands on deck,” said Dr. Cassellius in a statement. “Together, we’ve laid a stronger foundation upon which BPS can continue to build.”
In a letter released in tandem with her resignation Dr. Cassellius said while she loved Boston and her job it was time to move on. It is not uncommon for high level city officials to leave their post after the torch is passed to a new mayoral administration.
“When I arrived in Boston in July 2019, I couldn’t have predicted that eight months later the world as we knew it would change,” said Dr. Cassellius. “Since then we’ve confronted a global pandemic, reckoned with escalating racial division and civil unrest, and worked to repair community relationships that had eroded trust in our schools and confidence in our city.”
Dr. Cassellius said it was nothing short of remarkable that in the midst of it all the uncertainty in the world BPS was still able to developed a community-wide vision for equitable and excellent
schools in every neighborhood of Boston.
“We made historic steps forward in expanding access to our nation-leading exam schools; implemented a rigorous set of high graduation standards for every high school in the district with adoption of the MassCore; and put in place more just and transparent attendance, code of conduct, student privacy and grading policies,” she said.
Dr. Cassellius said she looks forward to working with Mayor Wu In the coming months to ensure the incoming successor has a smooth and seamless transition.
“As I said when I arrived in Boston, this work requires all hands on deck,” she said. “My hands – and my heart – will be fully committed to BPS until it is time to pass the baton. Until then, my sleeves are rolled up because we still have work to do.”
Before arriving in Boston Cassellius enacted comprehensive education reforms, including historic new funding for schools, enactment of all-day kindergarten, state-funded preschool for 25,000 children, and has overseen historically high graduation rates in Minnesota.
However, before she left Minnesota, the state’s educational system was embroiled in a lawsuit alleging constitutional violations.
In 2015, seven families and a nonprofit organization sued the state, alleging a range of constitutional violations, including the state government’s refusal to change the boundaries of the Minneapolis and Saint Paul school districts; creating charter schools; and inequitably distributing resources. Because the Minneapolis and Saint Paul school systems enroll a disproportionately high number of minority and low-income students, the plaintiffs claim that the districts’ boundaries violate the uniformity requirement of the constitution.
Cassellius was named in the lawsuit.
“Superintendent Brenda Cassellius has given Boston three years of strong leadership and service, and we are a better city for it,” said Mayor Wu. “I am grateful for the Superintendent’s leadership, especially while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Her vision and relentless focus as a champion for our young people and for equity has helped BPS move forward on needed structural changes within our district. I look forward to continuing to partner with Dr. Cassellius this year and to build on this vision in the years to come.”
School Committee Chair Robinson added, “Boston owes Superintendent Cassellius a tremendous debt of gratitude for her transformational leadership and service on behalf of the city’s children. Dr. Cassellius has been relentless in her focus on equity, never wavering in her commitment to our students and families. She set an example for those of us who share her dreams that all BPS students have equitable opportunities to achieve success in school and in life.”