Parents in Pontiac are trying to make sense of why Lansing Superintendent T.C. Wallace wants to leave our 15,000-student district for their 7,200-student district, less than two years into his four-year contract.
"My decision to look at Pontiac is in no way a negative reflection on the Lansing School District," Wallace said to a group of less than 10 parents Monday.
In the public forum in Pontiac Monday, Wallace cited experience and know-how.
But the teachers union president wasn't sold.
"You have twice as many students," said Irma Collins of the Lansing School district. "We only pay $156,000. I saw on the Internet you make $175,000. Why would you come to this district if you're in a flourishing district? You're saying because you have the credentials? I can't buy that. Why would you come here?"
Wallace answered simply: "It's for me. It's not about status. It's not about salary. It's about serving young people. I feel i can make a difference."
But minutes later, Wallace changed his reasoning.
"My decision is a personal family decision."
And then again in an interview with us after the forum.
"I would best describe this as a personal family health issue," he said about the decision to seek a job outside of Lansing.
If that is the case, the Lansing School Board tells us this is the first they've heard of it-- and if he'd told them about it, they maybe could have worked something out with Wallace's contract.
But in a suffering district like Pontiac, parents say they want someone for the long-haul-- not someone who will leave after two years.
"My questions were not answered, let's put it that way," says parent Caroll Turpin.
Wallace told the crowd "There are no contract issues" in Lansing, though he told us he has a four-year contract. The school board confirms his contract expires June 30, 2011.
Wallace is currently one of two finalists for the position. The second, Dr. Brian Ali of Mattson, IL, will be interviewed Thursday. A decision is expected to be made by the Pontiac school board the week of March 9.
Wallace tells us he was a mentor to the last superintendent of Pontiac, Dr. Mildred Mason.