Mount Vernon Superintendent Johnson Rides Into Retirement

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Interim Mount Vernon Superintendent Judith Johnson is ready for retirement after a distinguished career.
Interim Mount Vernon Superintendent Judith Johnson is ready for retirement after a distinguished career. Photo Credit: File

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - For the first time in two years, the Mount Vernon School District is poised to be led by organized leadership at the top, with permanent Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton preparing to take over officially from Judith Johnson.

Johnson came out of retirement and was hired on a one-year contract in June 2012 to help turn the district around,. She took the reigns from former Mount Vernon Director of Pupil Personnel Waveline Bennett-Conroy, who served in place of the suspended Walton Sawyer, who was embroiled in a scandal.

The soon-to-be former interim superintendent came to Mount Vernon having built an impressive resume in education. She served as the head of the Peekskill School District for a decade before stepping down in 2011, with her district twice earning “most improved” accolades from the State Department of Education.

Under Johnson’s guidance, graduation rates rose in  every district where she took the helm.

In 2008, Johnson was honored by the state Council of School Superintendents as Superintendent of the Year. She also spent time as an education official under the Clinton Administration. Throughout her career, Johnson was a fervent supporter of “leave no child behind.”

“Students that come from impoverished backgrounds have every right to expect success in America,” she said. “(Hamilton) has a commitment to make sure every student realizes the ‘American Dream.’”

Johnson was supposed to spend only one year in Mount Vernon, until they found a suitable replacement to take the district in another direction. After the superintendent search stalled last year, she announced she would stick around for one final year before riding off into the sunset.

While introducing Hamilton to the community, Mount Vernon Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson took the time to praise Johnson for all the work she accomplished during her two-year tenure.

“Our outgoing superintendent came to us at a time we were feeling a sense of hopelessness about whether or not we were able to educate our students in the district,” she said. “She galvanized the community around the fact that our children require us to be a participant in their education.”

Hamilton inherits a district that has improved in two years under Johnson. Under her leadership, the district undertaken a multi-year restructuring plan, kicked off a technology initiative and worked to improve community relations.

Hamilton, who has been busy in the community since being announced as the new superintendent, officially begins his $250,000 per year contract on Monday Aug. 11.

“We want to thank Judith Johnson for her service to the district the last two years,” the Board of Education said in a statement. “She and her team of administrators have embarked on a transformation that we know will continue with our new superintendent.”

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Comments (4)

Judith Johnson did not improve anything in the Mount Vernon schools district. The students continue to have very high failing rates (according to the "report card" issued by the NYS Dept. of Education). She failed the students, and the taxpayers continue to get robbed of hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for inept administrators and teachers.

Activist Bill: I've read so many of your negative comments, I just don't know why I clicked on this one! You are probably one of the most vindictive, destructive and sour people who ever inhabited the earth! You clearly are desperately unhappy in Mount Vernon: Why don't you just move somewhere else so that a positive and productive person could take your spot? We need solutions, not condemnations.

dennis.mcdermott.9: Apparently you're one of those goody goody people who doesn't like to acknowledge the truth about Mount Vernon. Your attitude is "so be it". It's because of residents like you, that Mount Vernon has become a city of decay, blight almost throughout.
And what would you consider a "positive and productive person"? One of the many drug dealers, firearms dealers, murderers, rapists, etc. that have taken up residence in the city? Those are the people who have been moving into Mount Vernon.
And since you're so very encouraging of a criminally negligent school board, would you send your children to the failing schools now?

"Seeing is believing; Believing is seeing."
A seat has been filled on the gravy train of guaranteed pension income.
The question will be does he deserve this gift of 250k or is he in it for the soft touch? I can only hope that this person has the integrity and will not take what is not truly earned by honest toil.


"Rides into retirement" True professionals leave it all on the field of battle. deserving the right to "RIDE." the question to those, who have not earned this right, is on WHOSE BACKS, ARE YOU "RIDING?'