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HomeNewsArchivesA Chance Conversation Re: Dr. Lynn Spampinato

A Chance Conversation Re: Dr. Lynn Spampinato

Dear Source:
Yesterday I was out to lunch and I was mistaken for Dr. Lynn Spampinato. Not knowing enough about the situation, I asked about the controversy. This lead to an interesting conversation with the lady who mistook me and another lady standing nearby. One woman worked for the Finance department, (over 20 years) and the other younger lady, for the Education Department. the latter worked with Dr. Spampinato. We decided to lunch together and discuss the issue.
I was told that Dr. Spampinato had only been in her position for a short time (since August) and had already brought in $8M. Most jobs have a 90-day probationary period… I didn't understand. I was told she was not given a chance.
I was told that federal money is allocated so specifically that funds must be spent for items applied for and any deviation results in them being returned. I was told that not enough care is taken in the initial application…that help is badly needed. Example: "They need books…not cups, then we have to give back the money for the cups and still they have no books." I was told that a lot of funds are returned …far too often.
I was told that Dr. Spampinato is a caring employer, interested in one's family and children, "kind and loving" were the words used and I was told she was more than competent and that she loved her job. I was told this decision brought sadness to the entire department, "like a funeral there now" and that a grave mistake had been made.
I asked point blank, being the only white woman at the table, whether prejudice was a factor. I received an emphatic yes. Sadly they said, no one wants outsiders …it shows failure…and a white WOMAN! I was told if you are going to be white you have to have an old local name…
What if anything can be done to rectify this decision and what really precipitated it? I don't know for sure and neither companion did either.
I left feeling very sad, not only for this woman whom I have never met but who wasn't given a chance to prove herself, but for our island's children whose education should be our greatest priority even at the cost of local pride.
I was told. "We may never know what is really behind this, one woman said, until Carnival, when we hear it in a Calypso song."
When I came home I searched Google images to see if I did indeed look like the Dr. and found this article: I highlighted two sentences that might offend. They indicate enthusiasm and work ethic… the predecessor to change. They tell me that this woman, whatever her past troubles (and I'm sure she has learned from them!) is capable of doing the job she was brought here to do. And, yes, we do have the same hairstyle. I should be honored.
____________________________________________________
(http://www.postgazette.com/pg/06291/730819-53.stm)
City Schools Academic Chief on Leave
Some Administrators Doubt She Will Return
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
by Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Pittsburgh Public Schools' top academic officer has gone on an abrupt leave, and neither the district nor Lynn Spampinato, deputy superintendent for instruction, assessment and accountability, would give a reason for her departure.
Dr. Spampinato, who joined the district less than 10 months ago, quickly immersed herself in the role Superintendent Mark Roosevelt created for her — devising and implementing plans for an academic turnaround. Mr. Roosevelt is not trained as an educator, and Dr. Spampinato has been his right hand on academic matters.
Mr. Roosevelt said she went on a paid leave Monday and had been away the week before on personal business. He declined to give a reason for her leave or to say how long it might last, to discuss her job performance or to say how he would cover her duties.
Other officials said Dr. Spampinato might not return.
Dr. Spampinato, known for putting in long hours and requiring others to do the same, declined comment last night.
Dr. Spampinato, a Lawrenceville native, gave up a top position in the St. Louis Public Schools to return to Pittsburgh in December. She played a leading role in the establishment of eight new schools called accelerated learning academies, in the selection of a new elementary reading program and in the development of a curriculum for middle-grade and high school students.
Her departure comes while those initiatives, described as critical to the district's academic turnaround, remain in their infancy.
Although they declined to discuss her yesterday, most school board members had praised her in the past.
She had rubbed some employees the wrong way with her impatience, a quality Mr. Roosevelt said he admired. Like Mr. Roosevelt, she was a graduate of the Broad Urban Superintendents Academy, which bills itself as a training ground for innovative school administrators.
In St. Louis, where she was chief academic officer for 16 months, she won praise from the school board but irritated the teachers union for speedy implementation of improvement initiatives.
Before that, she spent 25 years as a teacher and administrator in Denver schools, about three years as an administrator in Philadelphia schools and eight months as superintendent of a small, rural Colorado district. She said she and that district were not a good fit.
Kate Rake
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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Dear Source:
Yesterday I was out to lunch and I was mistaken for Dr. Lynn Spampinato. Not knowing enough about the situation, I asked about the controversy. This lead to an interesting conversation with the lady who mistook me and another lady standing nearby. One woman worked for the Finance department, (over 20 years) and the other younger lady, for the Education Department. the latter worked with Dr. Spampinato. We decided to lunch together and discuss the issue.
I was told that Dr. Spampinato had only been in her position for a short time (since August) and had already brought in $8M. Most jobs have a 90-day probationary period... I didn't understand. I was told she was not given a chance.
I was told that federal money is allocated so specifically that funds must be spent for items applied for and any deviation results in them being returned. I was told that not enough care is taken in the initial application...that help is badly needed. Example: "They need books...not cups, then we have to give back the money for the cups and still they have no books." I was told that a lot of funds are returned ...far too often.
I was told that Dr. Spampinato is a caring employer, interested in one's family and children, "kind and loving" were the words used and I was told she was more than competent and that she loved her job. I was told this decision brought sadness to the entire department, "like a funeral there now" and that a grave mistake had been made.
I asked point blank, being the only white woman at the table, whether prejudice was a factor. I received an emphatic yes. Sadly they said, no one wants outsiders ...it shows failure...and a white WOMAN! I was told if you are going to be white you have to have an old local name...
What if anything can be done to rectify this decision and what really precipitated it? I don't know for sure and neither companion did either.
I left feeling very sad, not only for this woman whom I have never met but who wasn't given a chance to prove herself, but for our island's children whose education should be our greatest priority even at the cost of local pride.
I was told. "We may never know what is really behind this, one woman said, until Carnival, when we hear it in a Calypso song."
When I came home I searched Google images to see if I did indeed look like the Dr. and found this article: I highlighted two sentences that might offend. They indicate enthusiasm and work ethic… the predecessor to change. They tell me that this woman, whatever her past troubles (and I'm sure she has learned from them!) is capable of doing the job she was brought here to do. And, yes, we do have the same hairstyle. I should be honored.
____________________________________________________
(http://www.postgazette.com/pg/06291/730819-53.stm)
City Schools Academic Chief on Leave
Some Administrators Doubt She Will Return
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
by Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Pittsburgh Public Schools' top academic officer has gone on an abrupt leave, and neither the district nor Lynn Spampinato, deputy superintendent for instruction, assessment and accountability, would give a reason for her departure.
Dr. Spampinato, who joined the district less than 10 months ago, quickly immersed herself in the role Superintendent Mark Roosevelt created for her -- devising and implementing plans for an academic turnaround. Mr. Roosevelt is not trained as an educator, and Dr. Spampinato has been his right hand on academic matters.
Mr. Roosevelt said she went on a paid leave Monday and had been away the week before on personal business. He declined to give a reason for her leave or to say how long it might last, to discuss her job performance or to say how he would cover her duties.
Other officials said Dr. Spampinato might not return.
Dr. Spampinato, known for putting in long hours and requiring others to do the same, declined comment last night.
Dr. Spampinato, a Lawrenceville native, gave up a top position in the St. Louis Public Schools to return to Pittsburgh in December. She played a leading role in the establishment of eight new schools called accelerated learning academies, in the selection of a new elementary reading program and in the development of a curriculum for middle-grade and high school students.
Her departure comes while those initiatives, described as critical to the district's academic turnaround, remain in their infancy.
Although they declined to discuss her yesterday, most school board members had praised her in the past.
She had rubbed some employees the wrong way with her impatience, a quality Mr. Roosevelt said he admired. Like Mr. Roosevelt, she was a graduate of the Broad Urban Superintendents Academy, which bills itself as a training ground for innovative school administrators.
In St. Louis, where she was chief academic officer for 16 months, she won praise from the school board but irritated the teachers union for speedy implementation of improvement initiatives.
Before that, she spent 25 years as a teacher and administrator in Denver schools, about three years as an administrator in Philadelphia schools and eight months as superintendent of a small, rural Colorado district. She said she and that district were not a good fit.
Kate Rake
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.