New interim Wake County Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens says she's learned a lot from the superintendents she's served under, including Del Burns.
But one of the most important lessons Hargens seems to have picked up from watching Burns is not to publicly criticize the school board. As noted in today's article, Hargens declined to give her opinion on the changes being advocated by the new school board majority.
“The board is dealing with complex issues,” Hargens said. “Those are governance issues. My focus is on learning and teaching.”
Hargens declined to say if she agreed with ending the use of socioeconomic diversity or the elimination of the weekly Wednesday early dismissals. She said it's her duty to carry out the board's policies.
Burns got in trouble during those Feb. 18 media interviews for accusing the board majority of engaging in political partisanship.
Burns had also criticized the board’s plan to abandon the use of socioeconomic diversity and the elimination of Wake Wednesdays, a.k.a. Wacky Wednesdays.
The board majority had called Burns' remarks "totally inappropriate" in explaining why he was being put on paid administrative leave through his June 30 resignation date.
Board members in both camps praised Hargens, who was unanimously chosen to be interim superintendent.
"Donna Hargens did what any staff member does and fulfills the directives of the board," said school board member Kevin Hill.
School board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman said Hargens is such a professional that she doesn't know what the longtime administrator's personal opinions are on the changes being implemented.
"If I didn't feel confident and comfortable about her, I wouldn't have voted to put her in that position," Goldman said.
Hargens didn't actually apply for the job. Instead, the board asked if she was willing to take it on. Hargens said she accepted to provide "continuity" to the district.
Margiotta said board members considered several district administrators but in the end only decided to interview Hargens. Margiotta said they decided not to talk with anyone outside the district even though people from the community suggested several names.
Hargens got her superintendent's certificate on March 1. But she said it was not connected to the board's debate at the time on what to do with Burns following his public comments.