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Gainesville Superintendent Wanda Creel leaving at end of school year
Will finish last year of contract
Wanda Creel
Wanda Creel

Wanda Creel will finish her contract as superintendent of Gainesville schools, but it will not be extended and she will leave the school district at the end of June 2017.

Creel has been the subject of multiple closed sessions of the board of education since July. She has been under fire for the handling of the proposed Enota school building project since the spring.

She announced at the beginning of the meeting Monday that she would “transition to cheering for the Red Elephants from a distance” when her contract ends.

No one — Creel or board members — said anything about her contract not being extended.

The board held a closed session before its meeting, and one item was personnel.

Board members have not addressed publicly the question of Creel’s contract. The issue has crept into discussions about the board’s “self-assessment,” which occurred in June.

The issue became a point of dissension when a called board meeting June 2 led to minutes that no board member would make a motion to approve.

Board member Sammy Smith said the minutes included “errors and omissions, rendering them unworthy of the board’s approval.”

The board later approved the minutes, minus a lengthy section. The minutes were about a discussion of the Enota school project.

Only Delores Diaz, the board chair, made any comment Monday — praising Creel and calling it “a very sad day for Gainesville schools.”

“Over two years ago, this board unanimously chose Dr. Creel to be our superintendent because of her qualifications, her experience, and her vision for taking our school system to the next level of excellence,” Diaz said. 

“We charged her with the specific goals of increasing our overall graduation rate and closing the achievement gap. 

“We also unanimously charged her with making some necessary changes that involved personnel and finance. The record shows that she has met those goals,” she said.

Diaz outlined a lengthy list of 15 accomplishments she said Creel has made in her two years here.

Creel said she hopes she will be remembered at some point as someone “who made a difference for children.

“Since arriving in Gainesville I have focused on implementing our board of education’s plan to improve the academic achievement of our children while increasing capacity for quality teaching and learning in our schools,” Creel said. 

“Although I am not a voting member of the board of education, the superintendent is charged with operationalizing the plan. With that responsibility is the realization that, unfortunately, I will not be able to make everyone happy.”

After the meeting, asked why the announcement was made now, Creel said, “It just seemed like the appropriate time.”

Creel was hired as superintendent in the middle of the 2013-14 school year, but she did not start her contract until July 1, 2014. She was given a three-year contract.

She came to Gainesville from Barrow County, where she was superintendent from 2010 to 2014. She also worked for the state Department of Education and in Houston County.

Creel started in education in 1985 as a musical teacher and choral director.

The school district issued a press release with Creel’s comments and Diaz’ statement supporting her within minutes of their comments while the meeting was ongoing.

Diaz said after the meeting the board has not discussed its next steps. She noted it has time to consider those.

Creel said she would finish her contract, which runs until June 30, 2017.

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