Amid Scandal, Dexter Suggs Resigns As Little Rock School Superintendent

With questions over accusations he plagiarized work for his doctoral degree, Dexter Suggs resigned  as interim superintendent of the Little Rock School District Tuesday morning, according to the Arkansas Department of Education.

A press release said Education Commissioner Johnny Key reached an agreement with Suggs for his immediate resignation. 

“The Arkansas Department of Education will work with the Little Rock School District to provide the high level of educational services required by the Arkansas Constitution. Through this period of transition, we will work in a collaborative way with teachers, administrators, staff, and the community,” Commissioner Johnny Key said in a statement. 

The department announced Marvin Burton will serve as interim superintendent. 

A severance agreement calls for Suggs to be paid $46,208 within 10 days, then paid $50,500 per quarter for four quarters beginning in July, totalling just over $250,000. Those quarterly payments would stop, however, if his doctorate is revoked.

Suggs has a doctorate from Indiana Wesleyan. He told television station KATV last week that he had permission to use a 2005 dissertation from the University of Oklahoma. He told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette he didn't think he intentionally committed plagiarism. Officials from the university said they couldn't comment on the matter.

The severance package document released also says both sides agree not to disparage the other. 

Superintendent and Employer agree that they will not disparage or otherwise make any comments or statements or render any opinions, either orally or in writing that are intended to, or could be construed in a manner so as to, discredit, injure or impair the reputation or impede the business of either the Superintendent or Employer.

The state has been operating the Little Rock School District, which is the state's largest, since January. The Arkansas State Board of Education voted for the takeover because several schools were considered to be in academic distress.

Greg Adams had been president of the Little Rock School Board until it was disolved by the state action.

"The whole situation I find very sad for the district," Adams told KUAR. "If the allegations of plagerism are true, then I think that's the appropriate thing. I don't think that Dr. Suggs could have stayed and been an effective leader at that point. I do think that the person that they put in place, Mr. Marvin Burton, he had been interim superintendent before Dr. Suggs came and I thought did a very nice job and I think will be a good person for this position at this point."

Bill Kopsky is president of the PTA at Rockefeller Early Childhood Center, which last week met with Suggs after expressing disappointment that Suggs hadn't included parents in the planning to turn the entire facility into a Pre-K center.

"It's never a good day when you see someone fall from grace in a manner such as this, but also, this does nothing to improve education for our kids which is where the focus needs to be," Kopsky said.

"So really, now everything does depend on how the State Department of Education moves and what process they put in place to really lead the district in the direction that we need to go and engage the community in helping to make decisions."

Material from the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Correction: A previous version of this article reported Suggs' total severance package was $200,000.