"I've had the tremendous honor and privilege to serve as superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia - to work alongside you and many of my colleagues, and support our beautiful and talented and young children that we serve. After much reflection, I have decided not to renew my contract," Hite said in a video message.
"While we have lots to be grateful and appreciative and encouraged about, we also have a lot of work to do, especially given the tremendous challenges facing us during this school year," Dr. Hite added.
He will remain in his role as superintendent until the end of his contract on August 31, 2022.
Hite came to Philadelphia in June 2012 from Prince George's Public Schools, Maryland's second-largest school district, where he was also superintendent.
The School District of Philadelphia was in dire financial shape when he got there. The school district commended Hite's work, saying since his arrival Hite and his administration have doubled the number of higher-performing schools, increased graduation rates and modernized early literacy classrooms in 48 schools.
"We have had nearly 10 years of Dr. Hite's strong and stable leadership, which has been transformational for the School District of Philadelphia," said Joyce Wilkerson, president of the Board of Education. "Through his work, we have been able to return the District to local control, usher in a period of fiscal stability, and put the academic achievement of our students at the forefront. We are grateful that he will continue to lead the District this year, keeping school buildings safely open for our students, and helping us as we begin the search process for his replacement."
Some parents at Dobson Elementary in Manayunk said on Tuesday they will be sorry to see Hite go.
"I like him. I think he did a great job for the school district," said parent Jeff Smith.
But there have also been critics, some unhappy with his handling of environmental hazards in schools, and the botched construction project to move Science Leadership Academy into Benjamin Franklin High School.
"He did the best he could," said Dobson parent Budd Reigner. "Superintendent Hite, that man's got a no-win job because everybody's going to complain."
Parent Denise Bratina said, "My goodness, the challenges he has faced have been insurmountable...I wouldn't want that job."
Now Hite faces another school year, now the third affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with a bus driver shortage, among other issues.
"We have come a long way since 2012 but there is still much more work to do. This school year will be a challenging one as we focus on keeping our schools safely open for in-person learning and helping all of our young people to heal and grow. I remain 100% committed to leading this important work in the year ahead," Hite said in a letter released to district families.
Dr. Hite is the latest big city school superintendent to announce a departure, joining a list of superintendents leaving posts in Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago.
Mayor Jim Kenney thanked Hite for his leadership and touted his accomplishments.
"His leadership generated several years of steady academic progress and laid a strong foundation for the work ahead. In returning the District to local control, our goal has always been to ensure that every student, in every neighborhood school, can reach their full potential with the foundation of a quality K-12 education, and we have made meaningful progress toward that goal thanks to Dr. Hite," said Kenney.
Officials said a new superintendent will be announced in early Spring 2022. The Board of Education said it will hold a formal press conference in the coming days with details on the transition and search process.
As of now, we do not know who the candidates will be and it is not clear what Hite will do next.
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