RALEIGH — One of Wake County's most senior and highest-paid school administrators has been demoted to classroom teaching duties, where he will become Wake's highest-paid high school teacher.
Superintendent Tony Tata removed David Holdzkom from his position as assistant superintendent for evaluation and research - part of a broader housecleaning in the top ranks of the state's biggest school system.
Holdzkom was reassigned Wednesday to Millbrook High School in North Raleigh, where he'll continue to earn an annual salary of $131,122 to teach English.
Tata said that confidentiality reasons prevent him from discussing why he reassigned Holdzkom.
Holdzkom, a career educator, said he did not ask to leave his job overseeing the department that analyzes school programs and test results.
"I was surprised by the decision," he said. "I have always endeavored to provide good service." Holdzkom said he asked to teach after he was told he would not be given a senior administrative position in the district.
Per his contract that runs through June 2013, Holdzkom will keep his six-figure salary, which is well in excess of what most teachers are paid.
A Wake County teacher with 34 years of experience, a master's degree and certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards would receive a salary of $75,595.
Holdzkom had been criticized by supporters of the school board majority. They accused him of suppressing a 2009 report from the SAS Institute that indicated that most academically qualified minority students were not being placed in Algebra I in eighth-grade.
Tata and school board vice chairman John Tedesco were visibly displeased with Holdzkom this month when he presented a report on Wake's efforts to place middle school students in Algebra I. Tata and Tedesco have expressed frustration about getting data from Holdzkom's department on math placement.
"I was disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm for equitable course placement," said Shila Nordone, a member of a school board task force that has been pushing for increased placement of students into Algebra I. "... I am hopeful that the next head of our data department will understand the important role that data-driven course placement plays in an integrated public school system."
Former school board member Lori Millberg called Holdzkom "a man of utmost integrity" who is very knowledgeable in his field. Holdzkom had been in charge of the school system's evaluation and research department since 2005 and held a similar position in the Durham school system.
"It's a loss to the system to remove David Holdzkom from that position, for whatever reason," Millberg said.
While it's not what he was expecting to do this school year, Holdzkom said he's looking forward to teaching Shakespeare and other English courses. He is licensed to teach English.
"Teaching is honorable work," Holdzkom said. "I am glad to do what I was trained to do."
Holdzkom is the latest top administrator to be reassigned or to leave Wake since Tata started as superintendent Jan. 31.
Michael Evans, chief communications officer, submitted his resignation last week. Donna Hargens last month left her post as chief academic officer to become a superintendent in Kentucky.
As part of a broad reorganization, Tata is creating new positions and moving around several departments. Tata also is proposing that Evaluation and Research now report to the new position of chief transformation officer, whose other duties include overseeing student assignment. Tata said he hasn't decided yet whether to fill Holdzkom's position.
Millberg, who left the school board in 2009, was critical of the personnel changes that Tata, a retired Army general, has been making.
"We have a superintendent who is not an educator who is replacing educators," Millberg said. "That's really frustrating."
Tata said it's normal for a new leader to make changes.
"I'm making prudent adjustments where they've been needed," Tata said.
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