SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA Despite being fired in June for fighting the St. Paul School Board over budgets, declining enrollment and student discipline, former St. Paul Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva was honored with her own day by St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. Coleman declared Tuesday, November 29, 2016 as Valeria S. Silva Day, and the following proclamation was read at a “thank you” reception given to the embattled Silva:
Whereas, Valeria S. Silva led St. Paul Public Schools, the second largest and most diverse school district in Minnesota, as superintendent of schools from December 2009 to July 2016; and
Whereas, Valeria S. Silva launched the Strong Schools, Strong Communities strategic plan to improve student outcomes, align programming and resources, and ensure sustainability; and
Whereas, Valeria S. Silva dedicated more than 28 years of service to the students, staff and families of St. Paul Public Schools as an educational assistant, teacher, assistant principal, principal, director of English Language Learner (ELL) Programs, chief academic officer and superintendent; and
Whereas, Valeria S. Silva’s contributions to the field of education reach beyond St. Paul and Minnesota; and
Whereas, Valeria S. Silva’s courageous leadership has catalyzed local and national efforts around racial equity, gender inclusion and many other protected classes; and
Whereas, Valeria S. Silva puts children first, channeling all of her joy, passion and creativity toward helping every child reach his or her full potential:
Now, therefore, I, Christopher B. Coleman, mayor of the city of St. Paul, do hereby proclaim Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, to be Valeria S. Silva Day in the city of St. Paul.
The event was organized by SPPS teachers and staff “during their lunch breaks” according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Pioneer Press also reported that “School district spokeswoman Toya Stewart Downey said outside organizations and individuals will cover the costs, estimated around $2,500, but she declined to identify them.” A request was made for donations to The Sanneh Foundation in lieu of gifts given to Silva. The Sanneh Foundation was founded by St. Paul native and retired professional soccer player Tony Sanneh to help at-risk children by using soccer to improve their lives.
The former Superintendent was forced out by a new school board last spring with only six months served of a three year contract. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported in June 2016 that teachers and parents complained about Silva’s softer penalties for student misbehavior and she caused families to enroll at schools outside of the district because of rushed mainstreaming of special education students which made schools less orderly and safe. After negotiations were complete, Silva walked with nearly $800,000 in pay-outs from SPPS.
According to a recent Star Tribune article, Silva is reportedly not done working in education: “A few days after the board vote, she spoke of a need to reinvent herself. But upon further reflection, she wants to stay in education, perhaps again as a superintendent.”
Reader comments posted on the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press articles question Silva’s stated desire to stay in education, the “thank you” reception and the Mayor’s proclamation honoring Silva, with many openly outraged by the events and Silva’s statements.