JONESBORO Outgoing Clayton County Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley has withdrawn his candidacy for the same job in Berkeley, Calif.
Heatley bowed out in an e-mail to Berkeley school board president John Selawsky sent either late Monday or early Tuesday, said Berkeley board spokesman Mark Coplan.
“It was not expected by the community,” Coplan said by phone Tuesday. “I’m not sure how it was expected by the board.”
In his e-mail, Heatley wrote “I want to thank you personally for all of your time and support. I have attached my letter of withdrawal from candidacy for the position of Superintendent of the Berkeley Unified School District. I wish you, the Board and Community of Berkeley nothing but success in the future.”
Heatley, who resigned from his Clayton County position late last month, was the final remaining candidate for the Berkeley job and was regarded to have been as good as hired.
But when a Berkeley news website uncovered a memo by Heatley while he was superintendent in Chino Valley, Calif., that appeared to support Proposition 8, a ballot measure that would have banned gay marriage, public outcry in liberal-leaning Berkeley forced school-board members to reconsider.
Although passed narrowly by California voters in 2008, Proposition 8 has since been mired in legal challenges. The county where Berkeley is located voted against it.
Michael Calta, president of Chino’s school board when the memo was written, has since maintained that Heatley never took a position on Proposition 8 and that he asked only for direction on the matter from the board. A careful reading of the memo confirms that.
Still, Heatley’s critics in Berkeley would have preferred that he had stood against Proposition 8 while in Chino instead of merely stepping out of its way.
“I think [withdrawing his candidacy] was probably the right move for him,” said Frances Dinkelspiel of berkeleyside.com, which broke the story about Heatley’s memo. “I think there were many people in the community who were concerned that he wasn’t sympathetic to gay families. I think what’s really important is that Heatley did not stand up in opposition to Proposition 8. Even silence on the matter, people would interpret that as complicity.”