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Two exempts leaving City Hall

With the changing of the guard in the district -- today is Amber Dixon's first day as interim superintendent -- I've been getting tons of questions about what changes are in store.

Some of the most common questions pertain to what's going to happen to the more than two dozen exempt (non-union) administrators in City Hall. The School Board has made it clear that they want to see fewer exempts. So who will be cut?

Well, Dixon won't tip her hand on this one. She says she wants to take a look at what each of the exempts does and then decide how to reconfigure central office.

But two exempts have issued their resignations.

Kara Murphy, a "human resources partner," worked her last day for the district on Thursday.

Brendan Kelleher And Brendan Kelleher, the district's general counsel, has submitted his resignation, effective in two months.

He will be returning to Hodgson Russ, the firm he worked for before the district hired him last year. (Hodgson Russ also employs Karl Kristoff, the outside attorney the board retained recently to handle the possible termination of former Superintendent James Williams' contract and, more recently, Debbie Buckley's suspension.)

Interesting to note: A few weeks ago, a reader wrote in on one of my live blogs, saying that Kelleher had been seen at Hodgson Russ, speculating that he was planning to return to the firm.

That prompted Kelleher to email me, requesting that I remove that comment from the blog:

I saw a comment on the blog that I was at Hodgson Russ last week. Aside from walking by the Guaranty Building when going to lunch with a friend at Pearl Street last Monday and stopping to shake hands with one former co-worker, I can unequivocally state that I was not at Hodgson Russ last week. 

I have been in the Guaranty Building on very few occasions since I left the firm last September. And during none of those visits was my working there in the future ever discussed.

Well, at any rate, I informed Kelleher that it is not News policy to go back and edit reader comments from live blogs.

But back to the issue at hand: the reduction in exempt employees.

Dixon says she will not post Murphy's job.

"We'll reconfigure human resources," she said.

You might remember that former executive director of human resources Valerie DeBerry resigned this spring. Williams posted an opening for an associate superintendent for human resources, but never hired anyone to fill it. Eileen Fleming has been acting executive director of that department, which has been operating short-handed for quite some time.

And as for Kelleher's job, Dixon says she hasn't decided yet whether to post that position: "There were times we've had general counsel, and times we haven't."

- Mary Pasciak

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |