After five years of leading Richmond Public Schools first to lofty heights and then straight to the bottom of state rankings, former Superintendent Yvonne Brandon's next career move garnered much speculation during her retirement announcement last April. "I'm going to Disney World," she quipped to reporters, keeping her real plans close to the vest.
Magic Kingdom or not, Brandon found someplace nearly as magical as her more permanent roost. Virginia Commonwealth University officials confirm that they recently hired Brandon to a $90,000-a-year salaried but non-tenure-track position in the university's School of Education. The job, a non-teaching position, began Aug. 10, according to VCU spokeswoman Anne Buckley. VCU's education school recently placed 28th in U.S. News and World Report's education-school rankings.
"Her official title is executive in residence," says Mike Frontiero, director of communications and marketing for the school of education. He referred further questions to Christine S. Walther-Thomas, the school's dean. VCU initially offered an interview with Walther-Thomas — and the possibility of one with Brandon — but later rescinded.
Instead, Buckley explained in an email that Brandon's VCU role is developing a "proposal on strategies for urban education." That proposal is due to be released sometime after next June, and "we would prefer to wait until then for interviews, when there is something to say."
Buckley did not respond to additional inquiries about where or whether Brandon's urban-education strategy proposal would be implemented, and whether VCU commissioned the proposal before or after the release of state data indicating that Brandon's previous urban-education strategies fell short.
Currently, just 13 of the schools Brandon oversaw met full state accreditation standards; five of those are eligible for state takeover.