KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The sudden resignation of Kalamazoo Public Schools’ superintendent has many wondering why she left.
Dr. Rita Raichoudhuri had been the KPS superintendent since February 2020. At Monday night’s board of education meeting, her tenure came to an abrupt end.
Teacher and support staff union leaders were in the room when an unexpected announcement to address a ‘personnel matter’ was made. There was a motion to adopt a resolution accepting Raichoudhuri’s resignation, effective immediately.
“We were stunned, absolutely stunned. Speechless,” Kalamazoo Education Association president Heather Reid said.
“Blindsided. (We) didn’t see anything like that coming. Literally out of nowhere,” added Kalamazoo Support Professionals union president Joanna Miller. “Just shocked.”
The motion and a one-hour closed door session followed the board’s unanimous vote to approve a one-time bonus for all KPS staff — a move, union leaders say, that was supported by Raichoudhuri.
The vote to accept her resignation was also unanimous.
In a joint statement, the KEA and KSP praised Raichoudhari for “setting the district on a positive track” and said they believed the one-time staff bonus she supported was “the final straw between a strained board-superintendent relationship.”
“It sounds like there’s a lot of internal politics. Honestly, I think it’s more between the board and Dr. Raichoudhuri,” Reid said. “We were kind of triangulated into that. I don’t think we really played that large of a role in that.”
After they voted to appoint Cindy Green as interim superintendent, Board President Patti Sholler-Barber addressed the public with a prepared statement, saying that Raichoudhuri “leaves the District in good standing” and “wishes to pursue other professional opportunities.”
“We care deeply for this district and are sure this is the right direction for it,” Sholler-Barber said.
Trustee Megan Maddock was the only other board member who commented on the resignation. She commended Raichoudhari for helping pass the largest bond in district history and establish programs for refugee students, virtual learning, and youth apprenticeship. She then turned to her fellow board members.
“She has made an incredibly great impact in her short time here and I will miss her incredibly,” Maddock said. “I am disappointed and I am disheartened that this board of seven competent and passionate community leaders were unable to appropriately support her and help her in order to retain her and her expertise for a longer amount of time.”
Reid and Miller say they are eager to work with the interim superintendent and the board.
As of close of business Tuesday, a district spokesperson had yet to get back with News 8 to organize an interview.