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Akron Public Schools superintendent Christine Fowler-Mack announces she's resigning

Akron Public Schools Superintendent Christine Fowler-Mack behind a podium speaking at the Akron Roundtable.
Eman Abu-Khaled
Ideastream Public Media
Akron Public Schools Superintendent Christine Fowler-Mack speaking at the Akron Roundtable on Oct. 20, 2022.

The Akron Board of Education voted Monday night to accept the resignation of Akron Public Schools Superintendent Christine Fowler-Mack, well before the end of her three-year contract.

The Board did not make any comments on Fowler-Mack tendering her resignation. But in a joint statement, both Fowler-Mack and Board President Derrick Hall struck a positive tone, with Hall calling it a "mutual agreement."

"While the board remains appreciative of Ms. Fowler-Mack's service as superintendent, it has accepted her voluntary resignation," Hall wrote. "We are excited for her next chapter and for new leadership to guide Akron Public Schools in the future."

Fowler-Mack, who attended Akron Public Schools, wrote that it's "never easy to leave a place you love."

"My decision to leave Akron Public Schools was made easier by my knowing the outstanding work, increased supports, scholar focus and measurable progress I was privileged to lead since I was named superintendent in 2021,” she said. “My decision to separate at a time of such pivotal change and opportunity for APS was made with careful thought, prayer and discussions with my family.”

Neither Fowler-Mack nor Hall listed an exact reason why Fowler-Mack had tendered her resignation, however.

The board’s leadership was very critical of Fowler-Mack, who is almost 20 months into her three-year contract, during a performance evaluation last year, arguing she was “insubordinate” in her relationship with the board. The Akron Beacon Journal reported then-Board President N.J. Akbar and now-Board President Derrick Hall and another board member wrote scathing reviews of Fowler-Mack, while four other board members were more positive.

Fowler-Mack also oversaw a turbulent relationship between the district and its teachers union, which nearly went on strike over contract negotiations earlier this year, with teachers and parents raising the alarm about serious safety incidents and student misbehavior.

Agendas for recent board meetings indicated the board entering into executive session to consider "personnel matters," reflecting the possibility of an updated evaluation of Fowler-Mack.

According to a copy of a separation agreement provided by the district Monday night, the district agreed that "any pending or future evaluation" for Fowler-Mack would not be completed.

"No evaluations, directives, or disciplinary materials of any kind shall be added to Ms. FowlerMack’s personnel file following the effective date of this Agreement, except as may be required by law," the agreement reads.

Fowler-Mack had said she was on "good terms" with the board during a "state of the schools" speech last fall.

Fowler-Mack's resignation will take effect in early March. Mary Outley, Akron Public Schools' executive director of childhood education, will become the interim superintendent.

According to the separation agreement, Fowler-Mack agreed not to pursue any legal action against the school district and to a non-disparagement clause, while the district agreed to pay out the remainder of her salary and benefits for the rest of the year. That translates to the rest of her salary for the year, along with her usual salary of $228,200 for the 2023-2024 year, in addition to pay-out of retirement, vacation days and severance pay amounting to $160,067, about $462,000 total. The district also agreed to provide a "neutral letter of recommendation" to any employers inquiring about her performance.

Cleveland Metropolitan School District is currently undergoing a search for its next CEO after current CEO Eric Gordon announced his intent to resign last year. Fowler-Mack previously was CMSD's chief portfolio officer.

Updated: February 13, 2023 at 9:18 PM EST
This story has been updated with details of the separation agreement between Fowler-Mack and the district, as well as statements issued by Fowler-Mack and the board of education's president.
Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.