Benton Harbor superintendent provides insight into search for new job

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) - There was a bit of clarification Tuesday night after confusion surrounding the Benton Harbor Area Schools superintendent looking for a new job.

With that clarification came a reason why Dr. Robert Herrera feels now could be the best time to leave.

Herrera, the superintendent and CEO, has only been with the district a year, but he is already looking to move on.

"There were a couple of positions that I was informed of recently that I am probably a good match for or that I am a viable candidate," he said. "So, I thought that this would probably be the best out of all times for me to leave the district, rather than wait until next year as we got into the year. I wanted to give the board an opportunity to find somebody new to start the year off."

Herrera considered now to be the best time to leave because the school board will soon resume control of the district from the state after lawmakers repealed part of the cooperative agreement between Benton Harbor and the state.

But now, the state's role in the district is up in the air

"I'm curious as to what the levels of what the expectations are for the district now, in terms of academic achievement, in terms of the deficit elimination plan, and what support and guidance we'll get to help achieve those goals," Herrera said.

A new school board member, however, isn't sure if now is the right time for Herrera to leave.

"When you're up in the air, I think you should stay until things come back down, but that's just my opinion," Michelle Crowder said.

Herrera is a candidate to become superintendent for Farmington Public Schools, located outside of Detroit. He informed the school reform officer and the board's legal counsel back in April, but the board was not made aware.

"Unfortunately, I had assumed that the board was aware of this," Herrera said. "In hindsight, it probably would have been better if I had followed up with an additional statement to them first, before this news had actually come out as well and given them an additional heads-up."

Crowder accepted the apology and believes it was just a miscommunication issue. However, she still doesn't know if leaving is what's best for the district right now

"I don't know if that's a good idea or not, with him leaving, because he's new to the district," she said. "The students, teachers, staff have gotten used to him.

"Change is awful quick if it's before a year is out."

Crowder said if Herrera does come back to the district, she will happily work with him.

He is only in the first round of interviews at this time and has promised to keep the board and community informed if he does decide to leave.