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Second PPS board member calls for Paul Anthony to resign
Amy Kohnstamm, the vice chairwoman of the Portland Public Schools board, called Thursday for fellow board member Paul Anthony to resign.
Her move follows a decision Wednesday by the group representing principals to demand that Anthony step down over his personal attacks on district leaders, including principals, other board members and the interim superintendent.
"Your behavior is intolerable and had a devastating effect on the district's employees, operations and fundamental ability to serve students," the Portland Association of Public School Administrators wrote in a letter to Anthony. "At this juncture, the district cannot heal and move forward so long as you are on the board."
Kohnstamm, speaking Thursday, said her decision is based on the district's need to land a new superintendent. "I think it is in PPS's best interest that he resign," she wrote in a follow-up message to the Portland Tribune. "Having a board member who undermines the superintendent, and whom staff does not trust and respect, will hamper that effort."
Unlike board member Pam Knowles, who earlier joined the call for Anthony to resign, Kohnstamm has two years left on her term and would continue to work with Anthony if he remains. Knowles' second term ends this month.
Anthony did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
On Wednesday, Tom Koehler, the current chairman of the board who leaves his post at the end of June, wouldn't go so far as to ask Anthony to step down. But he questioned whether Anthony could continue to lead.
Julie Esparza Brown, another board member with two years left on her term, also has stopped short of asking Anthony to resign, saying that is a decision only he can make. But she said she did want him to take stock of what she called "bullying behavior."
"I wish he would think about how effective he can be now," she said.
That's essentially the approach taken by Julia Brim-Edwards, who previously served on the board and again takes a seat next month. She said in a statement Friday that she condemned Anthony's "unprofessional, inappropriate and disrespectful" name-calling, but she believed he could find a path to becoming an effective board member.
"As a parent and former board member, I know that principals have incredibly difficult jobs and often have received inadequate support from the central office," she wrote. "It's important that the board's work be informed by our school leaders; that the board's actions elevate the work of principals, teachers, and school staff; and that the relationship between the board and principals remain professional and respectful.
She added: "As an incoming board member, I am looking forward to our first work together as a new board, which will be a two-day retreat next week where we will have an opportunity to receive training in board governance and have an opportunity to discuss the roles and responsibilities of board members versus the roles and responsibilities of the superintendent and district staff."
Of current board members, only Steve Buel has defended Anthony publicly, as of Friday. Buel said Anthony "absolutely" should not resign. "I think he's maybe the best school-board member we've had in 30 years," he said.
Other colleagues have remained mum. That includes Mike Rosen, a current member, and board members-elect Scott Bailey and Rita Moore.