OKLAHOMA CITY - As the budget crisis continues to take a toll on public education across Oklahoma, the state’s largest school district is facing a new challenge.
A special board meeting is set for Thursday evening to discuss Neu’s employment with the district.
Neu is currently in Boston to attend the National School Boards Association conference.
“Currently, there hasn’t been any formal resignation paperwork submitted by Mr. Neu. The OKC Board of Education is planning on holding a special meeting to address this topic on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The OKCPS Board Clerk is in the process of formally filing the meeting,” said Mark Myers, a spokesman for the district, in a statement.
The word of Neu’s impending departure comes just a few days after Oklahoma City public schools announced layoffs affecting 92 administrative positions.
While Neu's resignation comes as a surprise to parents, some members of the teacher's union said it was a long time coming.
Just last week, Ed Allen, the president of the Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers union, said he sent a letter to all Oklahoma City teachers regarding Neu's tenure.
“We suggested to our teachers that he doesn’t like dealing with budget cuts, that he was probably going to be moving on and leaving someone else to pick up the pieces. It appears that that’s exactly what he is doing,” Allen said.
The thee-page letter went on to question Neu’s leadership style, saying “he rules by fear” and “will do or say anything to get what he wants.”
“His leadership has not been inclusive and secretive and somewhat deceptive, and we thought it was time that our teachers knew what his history is,” Allen said. “In Michigan, he left his district because of budget cuts. He didn’t want to deal with budget cuts there. In Federal Way, Washington, a newspaper there described his tenure as rocky at best."
Neu’s contract doesn’t end until June of next year, but Allen said there’s something else about his tenure that has stuck with his employees since day one.
“Also, when he left Michigan and moved to Washington, he talked about wanting a better quality of life for his family yet, when he moved here, he wasn’t willing to move his family here. That implies not only that I’m not going to be here long but you can’t have a good quality of life in Oklahoma,” Allen said.
Robert Neu and his wife, Kelly, have six school-aged children.