Best of Neighborhood News 12/23: MN cities score well for LGBTQ equality

Twin Cities score 100 for LGBTQ equality

The Column reports that Minneapolis and St. Paul received the highest possible scores for LGBTQ equality, according to data from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). In Minnesota, Minneapolis and St. Paul each scored 100 points, the highest possible score. The average score for U.S. Cities was 56; all Minnesota cities scored above average. Continue Reading

Bernadeia Johnson steps down as Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent

In a surprise move, Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson resigned on Tuesday, Dec. 16, at an annual school board organizational meeting.Superintendent Johnson cited family commitments as a key reason for her resignation, saying in a letter given to school board chair Richard Mammen that she felt it was the right time for her to step aside and allow another candidate to help move the district forward.In an email sent to MPS personnel on Dec. 16, Johnson also mentions a desire to attend to family concerns, saying that her decision to resign should not be taken as a sign that she has lost faith in some of her key initiatives. “Rather, I am acknowledging that the role of superintendent for the next phase of the work requires a level of intensity and focus to which I am unable to fully commit at this time,” Johnson wrote.However, for North Minneapolis community activist Kerry Jo Felder, who was there when Johnson submitted her resignation, the superintendent’s four year tenure has been less than successful. “I’m glad to see her go,” said Felder. Continue Reading

Vanishing bandwidth

Superintendent Silva’s decision last spring to provide every Saint Paul Public School student with an iPad in two years has not proven to be a seamless transition for SPPS staff and students. For those students who have received iPads it sometimes takes several minutes for web pages to load on their devices. Quite often the students are unable to download apps due to a dearth of bandwidth available to the devices. The network remains sluggish and iPads often lose their IP Addresses that allow them to access the network and the Internet. This generally means the iPads need to be restarted in hopes that the devices will be able to connect to the district network after they restart. Continue Reading

Minneapolis Public Schools CIO Rich Valerga steps down

Controversial Minneapolis Public Schools’ Chief Information Officer Rich Valerga is gone, according to district sources, who say Valerga announced his exit at a hastily called staff meeting on Monday, Nov. 3.An email sent to all Minneapolis Public Schools’ employees by Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson confirms that Valerga will no longer be working for the district, saying Valerga has left to “pursue other endeavors.”Valerga joined the district as CIO in August 2013, becoming the third CIO for MPS in just three years. During his tenure, Valerga oversaw the firing, reshuffling, or dismissal of thirty-four of the department’s sixty employees, including long-time staff members such as Ben Peck and Krishna Pathak.Peck and Pathak shared their stories with the Twin Cities Daily Planet in May of 2014, as part of a series of articles about changes going on in the IT department. In late 2013 Valerga fired Peck without warning, and Pathak soon resigned as a show of support. In the interview with Pathak, he refers to Valerga as “rude, cruel, and disrespectful,” saying Valerga had a “my way or the highway” management style.Superintendent Johnson’s email to employees today said the changes Valerga ushered in have been “difficult on staff and the students in our schools.”  An IT employee who attended today’s staff meeting said that Valerga told those present that he had decided to step down because “his negative publicity was tainting the department and affecting the good work being done.”An MPS IT employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their job, did not know what negative publicity Valerga was referring to, saying he did not give any specific examples.Both the district employee and the email from Superintendent Johnson said that IT employee Fadi Fadhil will serve as director of the IT department until an interim leader can be found. Continue Reading