Westminister school superintendent quits despite show of public support

EDUCATION: The school board president calls the resignation 'a mutual agreement.'

WESTMINSTER, CA—The school board ended weeks of speculation Tuesday night with the announcement that Superintendent Gail Wickstrom is stepping down.

Board members voted 3-2 during a closed session to accept Wickstrom’s resignation, President Michael Verrengia said. He would not give a reason for the board’s or Wickstrom’s actions.

The Westminster School District board will meet May 15 to discuss the next step.

Verrengia said the resignation, effective May 31, was “a mutual agreement” and entailed a buyout of Wickstrom’s $ 102,963-a-year contract, which expires in 1999.

Wickstrom, 55, did not stay for the meeting’s conclusion and referred calls to her attorney.

Though the agenda of the closed meeting was kept secret, word had leaked that some board members wanted to oust the superintendent because of disagreement with her over bilingual education and the district’s federally funded programs.

Parents who spoke before the closed session accused some of the board’s “back-to-basics” members of playing politics.

“Are the interests of thechildren of this district being sacrificed for the personal agendas of a very small faction of adults of this district? I think yes! ” resident Jeanne Salinas said.

Wickstrom has served as superintendent since 1991. She received several community awards, most recently claiming an Honorary Service Award from the 4th District PTA for her “dedication to the welfare of children. “

She also chaired Orange County’s school-superintendent committee, which fought to retrieve $ 1 billion in school funds from the county after the bankruptcy.

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