School superintendent Browder to quit, citing family medical issues

Casey Grove

Anchorage schools Superintendent Jim Browder, hired July 1, plans to leave the job and Alaska to be closer to family in the Lower 48 who are dealing with medical issues.

Browder made the announcement in an email to Anchorage School District staff Friday. Just after 6 p.m. Friday, the district emailed a written statement to news reporters, including comments from School Board President Jeannie Mackie, who said Browder is looking for a another job "in order to be closer to members of his immediate family who are dealing with significant medical issues."

Browder came to work here last year from Fort Myers, Fla., and replaced longtime Anchorage schools chief Carol Comeau, who retired.

In his email to staff, Browder said he began discussing the situation with the School Board about three weeks prior to the Friday announcement.

"In the past several months, one of my daughters and young grandson have been experiencing some very severe medical issues which have not gotten better," Browder said in the email. "Consequently, as a father and grandfather, I believe it is my responsibility to be closer to them in Georgia. It is for that reason alone that I am considering leaving Anchorage."

School district spokeswoman Heidi Embley said Browder has not resigned and remains the superintendent "until the Board says otherwise."

Embley said Browder did not want to talk to reporters Friday night.

"He doesn't want to comment on it any further," she said.

Mackie, the School Board president, said the board had been discussing the issue with Browder for weeks and learned Friday that he was being considered as a candidate for another job.

"We decided we needed to get this out to the public now, rather than wait until he maybe had another job somewhere else. It was just a timing issue," Mackie said.

There was no friction related to recent staff cuts or other issues that caused Browder to want to leave, Mackie said. Both Browder's daughter and grandson were experiencing medical problems, Mackie said, but she would not elaborate.

"Things arise in life that we're not able to plan for," she said. "This is unfortunate. Mostly unfortunate for him, but also for us, too, to not have our superintendent as long as we wanted. But we'll carry on. Nobody is irreplaceable."