Broward County Public Schools
Howard Hepburn

Profiles May-June 2024

June 5, 2024

Surprise retirement leads to new superintendent in Broward County (Florida) district

Broward County (Florida) School Superintendent Peter Licata has been replaced immediately after he told the school board he wanted to retire at the end of the year because of health concerns.

The Miami Herald reports that Howard Hepburn, who has been deputy superintendent for teaching and learning, was promoted to superintendent after Licata's announcement.

Broward County is the nation's sixth-largest school district with more than 250,000 students.

Licata, who had been superintendent less than a year, took the school board by surprise in April when he disclosed that he wanted to retire Dec. 31 over health reasons.

In response, the school board voted 8-1 to separate from Licata immediately, instead of waiting until December. The board also voted 8-1 to name Hepburn as the new superintendent. 

Hepburn is Broward's fourth superintendent since 2021.

DeKalb County (Georgia) board agrees to pay $325,000 to superintendent it fired

The DeKalb County (Georgia) School Board has agreed to pay $325,000 to settle the contract of the superintendent it fired in 2022 after less than two years on the job.

WSB-TV reports that the board voted 6 to 1 to approve the settlement with Cheryl Watson-Harris based on her original contract terms. The board also agreed to pay $16,000 in attorneys fees.

At the time of her firing, Watson-Harris said she was “blindsided” by her the board's action, but board members said their relationship had been “deteriorating for some time to the point the association became irreconcilable.”

Watson-Harris was named superintendent for DeKalb Schools in June 2020.

Before being hired in DeKalb County, Watson-Harris served as first deputy chancellor, senior director of field support and Brooklyn executive director for the New York City Department of Education.

Court of Appeals order keeps demolition of 104-year-old school building on hold

The Michigan Court of Appeals has issued an order that continues to block the West Bloomfield School District from demolishing a century-old former elementary school.

The Detroit News reports that order from the three-judge panel gives a group of Oakland County activists more time to file appeals and preserve the 104-year-old Roosevelt Elementary School  in Keego Harbor.

The district had wanted to begin demolition preparations in April; it had scheduled demolition of the 70,000-square-foot school for June.

The former Roosevelt Elementary has been an anchor for the 2,700-resident Oakland County community of Keego Harbor, supporters assert. The building sits adjacent to the local police station and City Hall.

The school was closed in 2022 and its students were moved to another building in the West Bloomfield district. In calling for demolition, officials have said the shuttered school building is unsafe for students and costly to maintain.

Poway (California) school board fires superintendent

The Poway (California) school board has voted to fire Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the dismissal follows an investigation into the softball program at Del Norte High School in San Diego and accusations that Phelps harassed its players after an end-of-season awards banquet last year.

“Based on her conduct, as revealed to the board through the investigation, the board has lost all confidence and trust in Dr. Phelps’ ability to continue to serve as superintendent, as well as in her ability to continue to work collaboratively with the board as part of Poway Unified’s governance team,  said board President Michelle O’Connor-Ratcliff. 

Phelps had been superintendent of the 36,000-student district since April 2017.

During the past year, softball players, parents and coaches have alleged that Phelps had harassed members of the Del Norte softball team because she believed they didn’t clap loudly enough for her daughter, Jessica Phelps, a pitcher on the team, at the banquet.

In November, a Poway Unified high school senior softball player sued the district and its leaders, accusing Phelps of pursuing a campaign of punishment and harassment against her and her teammates.

Phelps denied the allegations and said her daughter was being bullied by another Del Norte student before and after the banquet.


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