Berkeley School Chief Candidate Withdraws

Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012  |  Updated 1:06 PM PDT
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Berkeley School Chief Candidate Withdraws

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The sole finalist for the Berkeley schools superintendent post has  withdrawn his candidacy after rumors circulated that he opposes same-sex  marriage.

Berkeley school board members announced three weeks ago that  Edmond Heatley, a retired Marine officer who is currently superintendent of  Clayton County Public Schools in Georgia, was the only finalist in a  comprehensive nationwide search for a new superintendent.

But some Berkeley parents and teachers criticized Heatley last  week after they found a memo he wrote in 2008, when he was superintendent in  Chino in San Bernardino County, which they said showed that he backed a  resolution in support of Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment  banning same-sex marriage.

School board president John Selawsky said Tuesday that there are  conflicting opinions about whether Heatley's memo actually supported the  controversial ballot measure, but in the wake of the publicity about the  matter he thinks it would have been difficult for Heatley to do a good job in  Berkeley.

"Leaving aside Prop 8, the memo raises other issues that raise  questions about his prospects for success in our district because there is so  much explaining that he and the school board would have to do," Selawsky  said.

He said, "I think Dr. Heatley recognized that as well."

In an email to Selawsky, Heatley said, "I want to thank you  personally for all of your time and support. I wish you, the board and  community of Berkeley nothing but success in the future."

The Berkeley school board has been searching for a new  superintendent since former Superintendent Bill Huyett announced his  retirement last December.

The search for a new leader is taking longer than expected, and  assistant superintendent Neil Smith and deputy superintendent Javetta  Cleveland currently are serving as co-interim superintendents until the post  is filled.

Selawsky said, "We will advise the community as soon as we have  determined what that next step will be. Fortunately we have two very capable  interim superintendents doing a great job of running the disttrict while we  work this out."

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