Tensions arise after Albany city schools superintendent agrees to resign

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Albany city schools superintendent has resigned from her position.

Dr. Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard had been the superintendent for the Albany City Schools District since September 2012. Board of Education President Kenneth Bruce said Dr. Vanden Wyngaard agreed to resign effective June 30.

At a meeting with the Albany School Board, supporters of Dr. Vanden Wyngaard cut off board members with boos and name calling to show their distaste over her resignation. They felt as if she was pushed out and treated unfairly.

“You’re just not hearing it; for what reason I don’t know,” supporter Amani Olugbala said. “That same lack of disrespect, disregard, it trickles down into our school systems. It happens. It’s in the little nuances.”

Despite district improvements such as higher graduation rates, Bruce said the situation had gotten to the point where the board and Dr. Vanden Wyngaard could no longer overcome their philosophical differences. He declined to elaborate during a press conference Thursday afternoon.

“The state determines how we handle these difference so we are not at liberty to address it,” he said.

Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin made a powerful speech during the BOE meeting that demanded answers.

“I don’t understand how you can make a decision like this when you’ve had no experience with her,” she said. “You’ve had no experience with her!”

“You didn’t think it was right to listen to all these people who have come forward,” she continued. “It’s deplorable. It’s a travesty, and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.”

To many in the crowded room, Dr. Vanden Wyngaard’s resignation was personal.

“Your first priority is to get rid of the superintendent,” Albany Common Council member Vivian Kornegay questioned. “That says to me my children are not a priority to you. And when I say ‘my children,’ all black and brown children are my children.”

Many people speculated that Dr. Vanden Wyngaard’s resignation was racially motivated, and things almost took a combative turn at the meeting.

Tensions flared after a man made racially insensitive comments about single parent homes. He was escorted out, and the meeting continued.

Earlier Thursday afternoon, Bruce said racism was not a factor. He cited other issues such as improper planning.

“I feel that I evaluated her as an employee, and race was not a factor for me,” he said.

Dr. Vanden Wyngaard was not at the meeting.

The school board appointed Kimberly Young Wilkins, Ed.D. as the district’s acting superintendent. She has served as principal at Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School since 2005.

Dr. Wilkins has been employed by the Albany city schools district since 1994 and has served as an administrator since 1997.

Dr. Vanden Wyngaard will receive paid leave from January 22 through June 30.

The school board has already begun the process of finding an interim superintendent. The board will also conduct a national search for a new permanent superintendent and will seek community input and involvement in the process.

There are currently 9,500 students in Albany city schools, according to the district.

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