Cobb superintendent to step down next year. Any replacements in mind?

With staff cuts, furloughs and increasing pressure to raise test scores, does anyone want to be superintendent of a major school system any longer?

With the announcement at Thursday’s Cobb school board meeting that he is retiring,  superintendent Fred Sanderson is leaving behind a system very different from the one he took over in 2005. Stable and high-achieving, Cobb has been rocked by the economic upheavals confronting systems across the state. It has laid off teachers and then rehired some, creating a vat of ill will that I think will last a while.

The system has a year to find a replacement for Sanderson.

Any suggestions?

Many people always want to see a national search for a new leader, but I wonder if that is wise in this wild climate. Is there something to be said for hiring someone within who knows already what the system has been through this year and knows the players?

It didn’t work in DeKalb to hire an outsider or an insider, so I am not sure there is any right answer. I am also not sure that the job is that attractive anymore, despite the six-figure salary.

A friend of mine is a former superintendent. He is now a college professor. He says it wasn’t the management of the schools that wore him down but the politics of the job.

55 comments Add your comment

no real public input

June 25th, 2010
11:44 am

one reason a super should be elected


June 25th, 2010
11:53 am

We already had a great super in Redden, but the political factions pushed him out. Remember that after two years of investigations it was found he did nothing wrong. His only mistake was not playing politics in the political cesspool of Cobb County.
Who would want this job having to deal with the current school board……vote them out and start over.


June 25th, 2010
12:07 pm

I am a strong proponent of promoting from within. If you look at some of the major corporations, when their CEO retires, they name their replacement and business continues as usual. It is called “succession planning.”

The only reason you should conduct a search for an outside candidate is when the system has ineffective leadership and you are wanting a “change of pace.” Dekalb County would be a prime example of where an external search is warranted.

The bottom line, this is one of the reasons you have the positions of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Superintendent. You are grooming them to take the job of Superintendent one day. If you do not think they are capable of assuming the role of superintendent, then you need to start asking why they are in that position.

Cobb Teacher

June 25th, 2010
12:46 pm

Dear Fred,

You, your 6 figure salary and $25,000 bonus (during a time when you laid off 25 people at my school) will NOT be missed.

Is is even possible to find someone to clean this ugly mess up??

franz ferdinand

June 25th, 2010
1:01 pm

Now only if Alvin and his chipmunks would go away, it would be the happiest day of my life….


June 25th, 2010
1:06 pm

The promotion of Constantino (in secret) like much of the BOE’s activities may have set him up to become the heir to the throne. Although feedback on him and his wife has been very negative, it would not be suprising if the BOE completely overlooked that and just promoted him again. This Cobb BOE and Central Office has made so many poor decisions in the last year, that the trust of the parents, students, teachers and community has been lost.


June 25th, 2010
1:25 pm

Are we now seeing that being superintendent of a school district is just as greedy as all of the other high end positions? They are being over paid for jobs not well done. How can we all get some of these over paid positions and bonuses for jobs – oh, let’ just say well done.


Northview (Ex)Teacher

June 25th, 2010
1:38 pm

Fulton county will gladly give you Cindy Loe. If you want arrogant incompetence, you couldn’t do better than her. While you’re at it, take Katie Reeves and the loathsome and despicable Ashley Widener as well. Our gain would be your loss.

MS Man

June 25th, 2010
2:15 pm

So, Cobb, Dekalb, and Henry need new supers and a whole bunch of jobs were just transitioned. Maureen, it would be interesting to see how long supers have been in place in their jobs in the great metro area and whose doing “the best”

You Asked

June 25th, 2010
2:27 pm

@ Cobb Teacher- “Dear Fred,

You, your 6 figure salary and $25,000 bonus (during a time when you laid off 25 people at my school) will NOT be missed.

Is is even possible to find someone to clean this ugly mess up??”

…Just wondering what your position on pay for performance is?

trying hard to be patient

June 25th, 2010
2:39 pm

@MS Man, Henry’s Superintendent had been on the job for only 2 years. I think he did a pretty good job(a job I would not want), but, I do know many people who did not like him.

Cobb Parent

June 25th, 2010
2:39 pm

I’m not against hiring someone local who knows the system well and is well qualified. However, I think there is a lot of merit to considering candidates from all over the country for this position. I would personally love to have someone from areas like northern Virginia or Maryland, for example, who has managed similarly large systems and is not afraid of setting the bar for student achievement high.

It doesn't matter

June 25th, 2010
2:56 pm

It really doesn’t matter who you bring in, there’s no willingness to discuss the issues that really affect what happens in the classroom anyway.

The Platts had the right answer.

Readers do your job

June 25th, 2010
3:05 pm

Maureen you interviewed John Rosemond. I bet he’d have PLENTY to say about how the public schools continually second guess and undercut the authority of the teacher.

How many blog topics will you run until you think it’s “pressing” enough to explore this issue?

100? 500? 1,000?

On the other hand, if the readers won’t hold you accountable on it…

Readers do your job

June 25th, 2010
3:07 pm

Wrong spot; the above post was meant to have been posted on the Memphis blog.

The new super

June 25th, 2010
3:14 pm

What about a protege of APS Superintendent Beverly Hall? Hall’s system just finished 169th out of 181 school systems in Georgia in CRCT scores. That’s pretty impressive! It also validates the “researched based best practices” Hall has been pushing for years.


June 25th, 2010
3:17 pm

Hopefully, the voters of Cobb will see fit to fire all current board members as their terms expire. The Cobb system is not what it used to be.

Jackie Moon

June 25th, 2010
3:36 pm

Fred was a very controversial super. Hopefully Cobb County will look at all of their options and not just look at someone that they know from within. Constantino is just looking for a bigger payday and is someone the current board will bow down to like they did Fred. Vote them all out so if they do decide to promote Constantino, then the new board can decide to get rid of the old and get someone new.

An advocate for public education change & choice

June 25th, 2010
3:43 pm

Given the economic climate across the State as it relates to the funding of public education, I wonder, does Fred see something coming around the corner that we don’t, thus he’s pulling the cord for the escape hatch before things get real ugly?

Hire a superintendent, get rid of school board positions

June 25th, 2010
4:09 pm

Given the cast of clowns on the board (especially Alison Bartlett) for him to work with, Sanderson could have done worst. He inherited a legal and political mess from the previous regime and still makes one of the lowest salaries in the metro area. Yet during all the upheaval whether you agree with him or not, he has kept a calm professional demeanor.

We need to hire a superintendent to be in charge and eliminate the board positions. Looking to a professional who is in charge and accountable would make for a more stable environment.

We’ve become one of the premier school systems in the nation because of the teaching staff we have, despite the school board members. How we continue to endure some of the worst board members in the state is anyone’s guess. One can imagine Alison Bartlett’s picture being used in other districts as a warning to voters for future elections, with the heading….
“Don’t Let This Happen To Your School System !!”.


June 25th, 2010
4:17 pm

@Hire a Superintendant…Allison Bartlett is the only responsive Board Member we have. The others are arrogant and condescending to their constituents and accept everything from the Central Office without question.

Bartlett is the only board member I would vote to retain. She is the only one who asks the hard questions and stands up for the students and teachers.


June 25th, 2010
4:24 pm

Fred Sanderson was the principal of Lassiter while I was in school and he really was fantastic. He cared about the well being and success of his students and faculty. I am sorry that his tenure as superintendent will not be considered a success by many; however, I think he is a first class leader and educator. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to Cobb County Schools, Mr. Sanderson. Many are grateful to you and you will be missed

Bartlett question

June 25th, 2010
4:25 pm

Wasn’t there an incident where teachers were saying they were being bullied, and Bartlett was the only BOE member who stood up for them?


June 25th, 2010
5:03 pm

OK, now it’s Beverly’s turn. I’ll even buy her a plane ticket to take her lying behind out of town.

Masked Man

June 25th, 2010
5:12 pm

If you want, you can have Phil Lanoue back. While there’s been some good from him, his style has put off a few folks over in Athens. Very brash and in your face if you’re not doing what *he* wants.

APS Teacher

June 25th, 2010
5:17 pm

@NancyPants- I’ll buy her a house somewhere else if she just leaves. :)

cobb mother

June 25th, 2010
5:34 pm

The Cobb County Board has got to go. Every member that is up for election has got to go. Since no one will run other than as a Republican in most of Cobb, we will know in July, who most of the new board members will be. We should hopefully have 3 dead weights by then. Byebye Holli Cash.

Then David, Mr. Late, and Arrogant needs to resign to save himself and his politician wife further embarassment.

A new board needs to select a new Superintendent from a State where education is in the top 10.

The whole Administrative staff of Glover Street must go to save the Cobb County Tax payers from the enoumous cost of the lawsuits that will follow from their fire and hire fiasco. This includes all the kiss butt Principals of Fred.

Cobb citizen

June 25th, 2010
5:54 pm

I think we would all have more confidence in Sanderson’s retirement announcement if we had more trust in his motives. With the upheaval because of the massive RIF, the $25, 000 bonus paid to Sanderson, the lack of cuts in the highest paid administrative positions, and the continuing saga of behind-the-scenes illegal/unethical votes taken by the BOE, no one I have spoken with believes that the #2 man in control, Mr. Constantino, should be an automatic lock for the job.

Whoever does take the reins in Cobb needs to foster sincere respect, both on a personal level and a professional level. This person needs to inspire teachers to work harder in a dire economy, while at the same time be willing to continue to make severe budget cuts that impact students as little as possible. This person also needs to look beyond the end of his or her nose for those cuts.

From what I’ve read and seen from televised BOE meetings, Mr. Constantino does not have much support from anyone except current board members. No one seems to know how he fell into his prominent, high-paying position so quickly. His background is definitely not in Cobb, and does not seem to be based in reality, in the day-to-day operations of a big system. His ties to Redden are strong, just underground and never publicized. He clearly plays favorites, a practice that Cobb needs to stop so that it, too, can become a “top 10″ system.

So, if Cobb can’t look to the designated heir apparent, then a national search is a must. This is one budget expense we don’t need to quibble over.

APS watcher

June 25th, 2010
6:37 pm

I’ve already lost my job with APS because I am a “whistle blower”. The celebrated NAEP scores were doctored too. Sorry to burst your bubble. Only the top 10 percent of each school took the tests. It was not random and can be verified. APS is a mess. Hide your heads in the sand and believe what you will. The corruption is so bad it really is unbelievable. There was a secret meeting 2 years ago with AFT. Elementary teachers told all on tape. Now, I finally got that off my chest. All supers need to be checked and their immediate staff.

Hey Julia

June 25th, 2010
6:59 pm

You must not have been at the 1987 graduation. It was his first year as Principal and got mad at the end of the ceremony, threw the microphone on the floor and walked off stage. Yea right, he is and was a real classy and caring person!
He was and is an idiot!
No, I graduated the year before and did not once get sent to the office.

@APS watcher

June 25th, 2010
7:20 pm

APS watcher, here’s a question that you can almost guarantee Maureen, who wants to caution people to tell “the whole story, good and bad” about APS, won’t answer. Maureen wants to keep sounding the drumbeat of NAEP scores but consider the following.

If the NAEP schools are as legit as Maureen claims they are, how did APS end up being rated 169th out of 181 school systems in Georgia on the CRCT?

And please don’t use the excuse they are different tests; you might get away with that when talking about the ITBS, but not the CRCT, as that’s the test the system is focused on.

Does anybody really believe that a system that finished 169th out of 181 is making real progress that deserves congratulations?


June 25th, 2010
7:56 pm

Please don’t come to my county looking for a superintendent. Any employee will tell you that we have the VERY BEST and do not want him to go anywhere.


June 25th, 2010
8:29 pm


My family moved here the year you took over and I have been thoroughly impressed with my kids’ schools in East Cobb.

Go Raiders!

Alison Bartlett admonished for falsely accusing principals...

June 25th, 2010
8:39 pm

Wasn’t that long ago Bartlett was apparently caught lying about her conversations with teachers that were supposedly coerced into voting for the balanced calendar. Lynn above was probably one of the Bartlett groupies who were applauding for her in the audience the night she made her false accusations about the principals. The one thing Bartlett can be counted on for is asking the dumbest questions and making obvious points that even the public already knows the answer to. But she has to look involved, so she just blurts out endless diatribes that make the board meetings twice as long.
Not that she is the only one, the board as a whole is not immune from stupid questions that should be known already by a board member. This is the problem when you have board candidates that seek election who either have a narrow agenda or are merely using the position as a stepping stone. This is why the board needs to go and not replaced.

Although Lynn above already knows since she was probably in the board meeting audience that night, here are excerpts from a letter to the MDJ editor about Bartlett’s abhorrent behavior:

Principals accused by Bartlett deserve exoneration
-She claimed she “had spoken in confidence with staff members from at least five different schools who “felt” they were influenced into voting for the balanced calendar option.” She refused to provide the names of any of the “cowards” (board member David Morgan’s word) who tattled.
-She had identified the principals at one elementary school, one middle school, and three high schools as administrators who had coerced and intimidated their faculties into voting for the balanced calendar. In the hope of discrediting the survey, she had called into question the integrity of these principals.
-When Bartlett realized the mounting anger that was directed at her, she began rearranging her assertions. “Perhaps there were two schools involved, not five!”
-(the following meeting) When Bartlett took her board seat, she was face-to-face with a roomful of people she had harmed. No, they weren’t happy. And no, the board wasn’t happy either. When Dr. John Crooks asked her if she was surprised at the impact her assertions had caused, the obvious answer was “yes.” When he asked her why she hadn’t talked to him directly since three of the five accused schools were in his district, she replied, “I don’t have the answer.”
-She was admonished for falsely accusing five Cobb County principals of coercing their separate faculties into voting for the balanced school calendar…..
link to letter on MDJ site

@Masked Man

June 25th, 2010
8:48 pm

Just wondering about the point of your comment “Very brash and in your face if you’re not doing what *he* wants.” It would imply that you have the option to not do what our boss wants you to do. Educators should spend a year working in a corporate environment to understand what it means to do what your are told if you want your job. Too many educators (not all but a lot) seem to think its okay to not do what has been told simply because they don’t agree or like the idea.

tar and feathers party

June 25th, 2010
9:03 pm

By all means, hire from within, just no liberals, blacks, hispanics or other losers.


June 25th, 2010
9:52 pm

@Allison Barthlett admonished….Are you one of the disgruntled Principals, or Central Office staff who only want to protect their turf?

Those Principals were told by Sanderson to be at the Board Meeting. Why? Because Bartlett wanted to eliminate the payouts for untaken vacation time. In the Private sector you do not receive tens of thousands of dollars when you retire for unused vacation. Yet Principals and Central Office staff do. Where was the payout for the for teachers who were RIF’d?

As for the teacher’s vote on the calendar, the county conducted an abbreviated internal investigation promising to reveal the identity of any teacher who indicated that a principal had stated that the vote should be in favor of the calendar selected. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but with Cobb County’s record of retaliation against anyone who speaks up, those teachers would have definitely been RIF’d.

Let’s consider how the county reacted when a department head was placed on immediate leave of absence for telling a teacher in an evaluation challenge that she did not agree that the teacher was less than proficient. This High School Principal placed the department head on leave and the County did nothing. There needs to be a full investigation of all of Principals who had teacher evaluations that were substantially lower than the average of the prior 3 years.

Not proven

June 25th, 2010
10:12 pm

Nothing in the 8:39 post proves that Bartlett falsely accused any principal. I have no idea if the accusations were false, but the fact that those with a built in vested interest said they were proves nothing. David Morgan did prove himself to be very unprofessional by disparaging teaching staff with his comments however.

What could have proven it was to have done the survey over again at the schools in question, and make sure that anonymity was protected. It sounds like the BOE wasn’t that committed to finding out the truth, just committed to smearing someone for questioning it.

Not proven

June 25th, 2010
10:14 pm

I have no idea whether or not Bartlett made false accusations, but the fact that others on the very political BOE say she did in no way proves she did.

Not proven

June 25th, 2010
10:24 pm

If you look at the comments on the MDJ site that the poster provided, there is nowhere near a consensus that Bartlett falsely accused principals, or even that she changed her story from 5 schools to 2 schools.

Of course no matter what happens in Cobb, does anyone really believe SACS would investigate, given the Brock Clay-Mark Elgart relationship?

Cobb Parent

June 25th, 2010
10:45 pm

I have good and bad things to say about Sanderson. On the good side, I do think he’s fairly pragmatic and the test scores of the local schools have been excellent during his tenure. I don’t know that I’d say that this is because of him but I appreciate the autonomy that he’s given to my local high school’s principals in making strategic decisions. And I realize that many think that every superintendent is overpaid right now but Sanderson’s pay actually is below what comparable districts in the metro area pay. I personally know a number of people that make more than Sanderson in jobs that are less stressful and require less responsibilities.

At the same time, Sanderson does have flaws. His communication and outreach I think has been lacking. Many great ideas were proposed during the recent budget cuts by parents and very few if any made into the final budget. Also, my perception has been that Sanderson has been more visible in the southern end of the county than in other parts of the county. I never even realized he was a former Lassiter principal until just now. I don’t think this is a bad thing as I do prefer our local schools have more autonomy from the system in determining curriculum. But, this has had the effect of making many parents feel that Sanderson is not in tune with the needs of their local communities.

I’d probably give Sanderson a B-/C+ for his tenure. Cobb, like Fulton is challenging to manage because of the large differences between the different parts of the county. There are so many issues when it’s simply impossible to please everyone. I hope the new superintendent brings in a more open/transparent management style while allowing individual schools flexibility in managing curriculum and strategic priorities.


June 25th, 2010
11:00 pm

I agree with Northview (ex”) – take Cindy Loe PLEASE. If you want somebody who demands complete submission to all her views and who promotes kiss ups – she’s your girl. Just ask the former Heards Ferry principal who has now been promoted after getting up and telling people at the BOE meeting that principals were 100% behind cutting the instrumental music programs. The liar by omission is now a new area superintendent. Coincidence? I think not!

Cobb Math Teacher

June 25th, 2010
11:46 pm

I would call up Mr. Lanoue and see if he is willing to come back. I worked in a school under Mr. Lanoue when he was area 1 superintendent. He was not difficult to work for when you were successful and respectful. He got to know the teachers and students in the schools he served and for successful schools allowed more autonomy then schools where there was little success. To me, his experience in the county and two years experience as a superintendent give him the unique abilities to successfully navigate the strong-willed personalities within the district.

RE: Not Proven

June 26th, 2010
12:17 am

Regarding Bartlett’s behavior, the falsely accused principals and their teachers would disagree with your head-in-the-sand opinion of whether she did or didn’t. They signed petitions and showed up in large numbers at the school board meeting to face Bartlett and refute her claims. Bartlett was asked point blank by the board who she supposedly spoke to. She refused to answer. There should have been a criminal investigation, but she got off with a rebuke from the board.
The district she represents must have very low expectations.
Between Bartlett, Morgan, Cash and Banks, it’s a wonder anything got done. The rest of the board should have directed them to the back of the room and have anyone passing by the boardroom explain the various concepts they had trouble with again and again.
Not only do we need to lose the board, period; but the grossly overpaid attorney who allowed illegal meetings, etc, needs to be replaced.

Our children are at the mercy of politics!

June 26th, 2010
9:21 am

“…take Cindy Loe PLEASE. If you want somebody who demands complete submission to all her views and who promotes kiss ups – she’s your girl.”

Cindy Loe was Alvin’s #1 chipmunk. Loe’s lousy leadership in Fulton is exactly what is/has been going on in GCPS!

Thurgood Marshall

June 26th, 2010
10:41 am

@tar and feathers party–You are exactly what’s wrong with our world. A liberal, black or Hispanic superintendent my just be the best choice for the school district. I just hope you are someone who works in isolation and not a person who has to interact with others. People like you need their own country somewhere near the South Pole. One America!!

By all means, hire from within, just no liberals, blacks, hispanics or other losers.

Cobb Parent

June 26th, 2010
12:50 pm

We will only look from within for the super job. The reason- why go outside the system when we have such wonderful qualified people here in Cobb. Lol- we only have people within qualified to be a super not principals at local schools. We go outside the system for principals.

In Secret

June 26th, 2010
5:23 pm

The cobb school board will meet in secret and pick some good ole boy who has inside connections with a couple of the members and end up getting $300,000 in salary and doing absolutely nothing like sanderson—bank on it.

@ Hey Julia

June 26th, 2010
9:59 pm

Mr. Sanderson became principal at Lassiter in ‘94. Please check your stories. This was not the same guy. The Mr. Sanderson that was principal at Lassiter while I was there knew the students by name, was seen in the halls, danced the dirty bird in the sky light when the falcons made it to the super bowl, and pushed Lassiter to one of the best high schools in the state. He is a good leader who had one of the most difficult budget issues we can remember. The board on the other hand…

New Super for Cobb

June 27th, 2010
10:09 am

James Wilson. He knows Cobb. Has served as a super. Is honest, ethical and can correct this mess Sanderson and the board have created. Both Constantino’s need to go. No positive impact for all the money they are being paid. Cobb will be better off without the saleman and the demoralizer.
All Asst. Supers need to go. The positions serve absolutely no purpose.
Allow teachers, parents, students, and the community evaluate each principal. They want it for teachers then they get it for themselves. Remove those that are ineffective leaders and those that are county lackeys, as well as, those that use their position to bully educators.
Allow the principals that stay to actually make decisions for their schools and students.
Allow teachers to teach and allow them to remove disruptive students from the classroom.
Require parents to volunteer a set number of hours in the school (this is one Federal Govt. intrusion I’d welcome. Just like parent leave protection when a baby is born).
Finally, require that the feds and the local state govt actually fund their own required mandates. Or drop all Dept. of Ed. and let each system run autonomously. Wouldn’t that cause our self serving and self important elected officials to gasp for air!