UPDATE: As Tuesday’s meeting continued, Board President Rob Ainslie reiterated his earlier comments to The Ithaca Voice. They have been added to the bottom of this story.
ITHACA, N.Y.—The rollercoaster continues at Ithaca City School District, as Dr. Luvelle Brown announced at the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night that he has reconsidered his decision to resign his post as superintendent of the district. He will remain “indefinitely” in the position.
Brown had made the resignation announcement at the Board of Education meeting two weeks ago, saying he wanted to pursue an opportunity with Discovery Education as head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. That is no longer the case, and Brown will remain with the district as superintendent, he said on Jan. 26. His announcement was followed shortly thereafter by the circulation on social media of a petition, written on behalf of Brown’s ex-wife, to the state Department of Education that called for an investigation into several aspects of Brown’s conduct as superintendent.
“I’ve heard from a lot of students over the last couple weeks, and a lot of community members, and I just wanted to clarify some things and share some new thinking,” Brown said. “At our last meeting, yes I did speak to my wishes to transition to a new role in February. That’s not going to happen. After many conversations and reflections, I’m wishing to be here and serving as your superintendent going forward and indefinitely. We have much work to do. (…) I recognize the stir that I caused by talking about a transition.”
It’s a strange turn, but it comes without legal implications for Brown or the district. Board president Rob Ainslie, who came out in support of Brown after the allegations began making headlines, said that technically the superintendent is under contract with the Board of Education and they must accept his formal letter of resignation. That letter was never actually submitted despite Brown’s announcement on Jan. 12. It does, however, seem to emphasize that Brown’s announcement came as a surprise for those around him, including board members. Union officials have also confirmed that they were not made aware of Brown’s intentions before they were announced.
“We were in the talking stage, basically, obviously supportive of Dr. Brown’s work here, statewide and nationally,” Ainslie said. “Through a series of talks with the board, the main point is the board gave Dr. Brown the opportunity to change his mind, and indeed he did so. (…) We are more than happy to have (Dr. Brown) lead this district and continue the work we started 10 years ago, and there’s a lot more work to do.”
Though prompted by two of the board’s student liaisons, Brown and Ainslie did not initially address the myriad allegations made by Anjanette Brown, the superintendent’s ex-wife, which have to do with both professional and private conduct. Once questioned again by fellow board member Erin Croyle, Ainslie did weigh in, reiterating that the board had conducted an investigation into the allegations and deemed them unfounded.
“Allegations are allegations, that’s what they are,” Ainslie said. He repeated that he had met with a community member, Professor Peyi Airewele of Ithaca College, who presented the allegations to him in September. The board then received a formal submission from Anjanette Brown, the superintendent’s ex-wife, in November, and responded to her in December that they were not going to take action based on finding some of her allegations outside of their purview and that interviews with district staff did not yield evidence of wrongdoing on the superintendent’s part. “There was nothing there that was going to impact the district. I don’t know how many different ways I can say it. It was investigated, the board did due diligence regarding all allegations, and found they were unwarranted.”
Dr. Brown has previously denied the allegations and said that they would not impact his job offer at Discovery Education. A request for comment to Discovery Education has not yet been answered, though this story will be updated if it is.