Baker school system Superintendent Ulysses Joseph is scheduled to announce his retirement at a School Board meeting Tuesday, even though the board in early December had voted to extend his contract by a year.
The announcement — which is listed as an agenda item for discussion — comes on the heels of the Thursday arrest of one of Joseph’s employees, Emmitt Whitfield, 47, a maintenance supervisor accused of stealing 717 items worth $128,000 using a school system credit card. Joseph was Whitfield’s direct supervisor.
It is not yet clear whether Joseph’s pending retirement is connected to the allegations about the thefts. The agenda shows Joseph will retire on May 28 and allots time for the board to discuss advertising for and setting a timeline to appoint Joseph’s replacement. He could not be reached for comment Monday night.
“I think it’s a good thing,” said School Board member Doris Alexander, speaking of the pending retirement. “If he was supposed to supervise this guy and he didn’t do his job, and we lost all that money, obviously he’s overwhelmed. He can’t do the job.”
The items Whitfield is accused of stealing include 117 window-unit air conditioners, a gazebo, two novelty disco globes and a decorative lawn fountain.
“I was disappointed,” Alexander said. “I just hope we can get our money back.”
In early December, Whitfield and his wife, Queena Williams, were arrested, with Whitfield accused of stealing a $450 tree trimmer that belonged to the Baker school system, and Williams accused of pawning it.
Less than a week after that arrest, the School Board voted to extend Joseph’s contract for a year — even after a heated debate flared up over the fact that Joseph had never been formally evaluated. Joseph has been a superintendent of the school district for four years.
“Because we did not evaluate you … I don’t know what I’m voting for,” Alexander said in December.
But another School Board member, Dana Carpenter, wishes Joseph would stay.
“I would like to see him continue,” he said. “But I can’t second-guess it.”
He added that the thefts are disheartening.
“I’m appalled,” Carpenter said. “In a small district like ours … it has a big effect, and every penny counts.”
It is not known what knowledge Joseph had of the thefts.
Joseph’s current contract was supposed to end Dec. 31. He has said he earns $118,000 a year as superintendent.
The three other board members, Elaine Davis, Shona Boxie and Rosatina Johnson, could not be reached for comment Monday night.
Follow Daniel Bethencourt on Twitter, @_dbethencourt.