Cieniawski calls for Governing Board President Perleberg’s resignation

In a March 1 letter to Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board members, the Scottsdale Education Association has called for the resignation of Governing Board President Barbara Perleberg.

“Amidst escalating news reports on the failed management team, you ignored and disparaged Scottsdale community and staff members calling them ‘irresponsible fear-mongers,’” the SEA press release states.

Julie Cieniawski

The letter urges the Governing Board to realize that the community must recover from this escalating scandal and regain its gold standard reputation, according to SEA President, Julie Cieniawski.

“Your temporary removal of Superintendent Denise Birdwell one day before the Arizona Attorney General filed multiple charges against the district followed by your ever-increasing and damaging decision-making warrants our urgent call to Governing Board members to repair your broken relationship with district stakeholders,” Ms. Cieniawski said in a prepared statement. “That repair must begin with Governing Board President Perleberg’s resignation.”

Reasons to call for President Perleberg’s resignation listed by the Scottsdale Education Association in the press release include:

  • “The Scottsdale community and its students cannot afford the failure of the next override renewal at the ballot box. Failure would result in an ongoing loss of approximately 20 million dollars over the next three years. Communities will not vote to continue taxing themselves when they have lost faith in the people directly responsible for overseeing the direction of district finances. We cannot afford to continue down this path.”
  • “Amidst ongoing destructive decisions; amidst mounting allegations and public outcry, Barbara Perleberg exacerbated the Scottsdale community crisis further by leading the board in its unanimous and destructive decision to name one of Denise Birdwell’s appointees, Amy Fuller, to serve as Interim Superintendent. For Governing Board President Perleberg to remain in her position any longer during this dark time will do irreparable harm to the chance of preserving precious funding, placing our staff and students at greater economic and educational risk.”

For the district to recover from the Governing Board’s fiscal malfeasance, Ms. Cieniawski, on behalf of her constituents called on the district to take additional actions:

  • Retain immediately an independent auditor and forensic accountant to review all spending decisions directed by Denise Birdwell;
  • Employ a reputable agency or organization to establish procedures that will plan and conduct a search for a new superintendent which will include community members, SUSD staff, and SEA leadership;
  • Reestablish a district budget committee immediately inclusive of SEA leadership;
  • Retain a qualified professional to review the qualifications and work history of all upper-level management positions hired under Denise Birdwell;
  • Refrain from offering contracts to any upper management individuals hired by Denise Birdwell until the review has transpired.

“It is our focus on Scottsdale students that drives us to take action,” the SEA letter states.

“We live in a state that funds education at an abysmal rate, and our Scottsdale community has consistently taxed itself to increase dollars to our district so that neighborhood children could get the very best education. Many of these fine community members stand ready to work towards repairing the tarnished image of their once shining district.

“SEA stands with its Scottsdale community in demanding new administrative leadership as well as new Governing Board leadership. We are to ready to move the district away from turmoil and forward towards its mission and commitment to safeguard the educational welfare of the Scottsdale Unified School District’s children and demands these actions be taken.”

In January, the Scottsdale Education Association announced that 92 percent of those responding to a December SEA survey voiced “no confidence” in current Scottsdale Unified School District leadership. The survey gauged confidence in Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell and the SUSD Governing Board.

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