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Green Bay School Board closes door on reinstating superintendent

'The window to have this conversation has closed,' school board says

Dr. Claude Tiller
Former Green Bay Superintendent Claude Tiller, pictured, resigned earlier this month. (Photo Courtesy of the Green Bay Area Public School District)

The Green Bay School Board says it cannot reinstate the superintendent who resigned earlier this month, despite calls from community members to do so.

More than 50 people attended a board meeting Monday night demanding the district to reinstate former Superintendent Claude Tiller, the first Black leader in the Green Bay Area Public School District’s history.

Tiller resigned this month during a district investigation into controversial comments he made in an Atlanta radio interview. On Tuesday, he issued a statement saying he was open to conversations about returning.

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But in a statement issued Wednesday evening, the board said Tiller was given an opportunity to rescind his resignation and did not do so.

“The window to have this conversation has closed and there are no further comments to make,” the board stated. “We are now moving forward with discussing the process for identifying and selecting the district’s next superintendent.”

“There is much work to be done in our district and we will engage with those who raised concerns regarding equity and equality and the need for greater understanding and inclusion among all stakeholders,” the statement continued.

Tiller’s interview with an Atlanta radio station was part of a planned multi-state tour to recruit teachers of color to come to Green Bay. Students of color make up roughly 60 percent of the district’s student body, while roughly 90 percent of its teachers are white. 

Research shows students perform better academically when teachers share their race or gender, according to the New York Times.

Robin Scott, executive director of the We All Rise: African American Resource Center in Green Bay, told WPR this week that it would be difficult for the school district to rebuild trust with community members if Tiller is not reinstated.

“I felt like we were on the right path when we started to look for diverse leadership, but then, obviously, we’re not if he’s not reinstated,” Scott said Tuesday. “We can’t make amends in that regard.”

At Monday’s school board meeting, retired U.S. Army Col. Rick Crosson spoke about the possibility of Tiller not returning to the district. He told the board they needed to have a plan for both scenarios.

“Is this gonna be the last Black man we ever see here? Or are you going to get somebody else that fits some loosely-defined narrative of diversity and put that person in there because they can conform to what you want?” he said. “And you’re going to prop that person up as a diversity hire — I’ve seen that happen around here.”

If the board moves to hire a new superintendent, Crosson asked that they keep the community involved. “Let some of us help you with the hiring process if you have to go find someone else,” he said.