I was somewhat startled to see this news yesterday:
The Howard County Public School System is actively seeking a new chief financial officer after Rafiu O. Ighile resigned late last month.
In her piece for the Baltimore Sun, Jess Nocera notes:
In an interview, Ighile said his reasoning for leaving Howard was “purely family.” A father to six daughters, the oldest being 16, he knew his priority needed to be his family.
Without knowing anything about the particulars, I think that, after a budget season like this year’s, I would want to spend more time with family, too.
The phrase “wanting to spend more time with family” is a well-known exit line, along with, “leaving to pursue other interests.” They have come to represent a multitude of sins, or, perhaps more accurately, as a stand-in for other, more complicated explanations. I found the following article extremely helpful:
Canned Phrases for Making an Exit, Kate Hafner for the New York Times
Ms. Hafner points out that such statements provide a socially acceptable cover while severance packages are being negotiated. Considering the fact that Mr. Ighile left in late June and the public found out on July 19th, some sort of tying up of loose ends must have been going on. I do not know.
It is a turn of phrase with a long tradition, spun from corporate boardrooms in all seeming sincerity — no winks, no nods — just the sober announcement.
“Dear shareholder and John Q. Public: our trusted executive is resigning to spend more time with family.”
Sometimes it is actually true. The family tug is strong, especially this time of year. But with large severance packages and corporate images frequently at stake, more often than not the phrase is part of a carefully scripted termination agreement, filled with non-disparagement and confidentiality clauses.
The details surrounding the leaving of a job are incredibly personal and sometimes painful. Under normal circumstances they are really none of our business. But when one holds a position that is vital to the functioning of our public school system, well, the public is bound to be curious. This year’s budget season and the resulting discord with County Government left many folks wondering how expectations for funding could be so wildly disparate. The finding, almost overnight, of several million dollars - - heretofore unnoticed- - was a relief on the one hand, but troubling in its own right.
I have zero inside information. News headlines tell us:
- June 21st, County Executive Calvin Ball requests performance audit of the school system.
- Late June, Mr.Ighile leaves his position as chief financial officer.
- July 16th, Executive Ball announces smaller scope of school system audit.
- Yesterday, departure of Mr. Ighile is announced to the public
I’ve got to hope that this means that the school system is somehow heading in the right direction. I’m sure we all wish Mr. Ighile well and that his upcoming shift in priorities is a fulfilling and fruitful one. I hope that the search for a new chief financial officer yields a highly successful choice for our school system.