Now that's a question hard to answer directly. Certainly, it's not like Superintendent Pamela Brown issued a press release saying, "Hey, I made Sykes resign and here's why."
According to board member Carl Paladino, Debra S. Sykes was pushed out of the district because she recently inquired with an HR manager about the status of her harassment complaint against the district's former (and controversial) consultant Mary Guinn. Since Brown has expressed an interest in bringing Guinn back to the school district in some form, he said Sykes paid the price for pursuing her harassment complaint.
But not everyone agrees with that explanation.
Some board members have been critical of Sykes for her work on School Improvement Grant applications that have been repeatedly rejected by the state, jeopardizing millions in federal aid. (Brown has also taken heat for this.) Sykes has also overseen the submission of school improvement plans that are required by the state. Those plans have been criticized in recent weeks by parent activists as having been submitted without sufficient parent input.
But as to why Sykes was apparently forced to resign on Friday, the understandable speculation is that it was prompted by the meeting Brown had with state officials on Thursday about the serious instructional problems at Bennett, Lafayette and MLK.
Despite the district's issues related to submitting acceptable school turnaround plans, Sykes remained part of Brown's Executive Cabinet after the central office reorganization. She did not receive a raise, but neither was she demoted (unlike the chief of staff, head of operations and general counsel) even though all administrators were required to reapply for their jobs earlier this year.
Clearly, Sykes had Brown's support at one point. Also clear is that fact that Sykes, who was previously the supervisor for math instruction in Buffalo, believes she's been mistreated by the district after more than 30 years of dedicated service.
Below is the resignation letter Sykes submitted to Brown on Friday.
-- Sandra Tan