By David Owens and Steven Goode

WINDSOR — Superintendent Jeffrey A. Villar is leaving his post to lead the nonprofit Connecticut Council for Education Reform.

A week ago, the town received the results of a controversial study that sought to explain why black and Latino students lag behind their white counterparts in achievement in the town’s schools. Villar said it provided lots for parents and school officials to discuss.

The recommendations of the Excellence and Equity Review, Villar said, offer “a lot to digest, a lot to come to agreement on” and that he hoped the community and school board could come together in analyzing the study’s findings. 

It’s a discussion in which Villar won’t be participating, now that he’s leaving his $190,000 a year post after 1 1/2 years.

In recent days, Villar spoke of helping to lead the town forward and posted on his blog on the school system’s website that “the time has come to make a change in direction and reshape our institutions. Whether you like it or not, we are all in this together: we all have skin in the game.”

Villar had come under fire from some school board members about the cost and focus of the equity study and the manner in which it was approved.

Board of Education President Doreen Richardson called Villar an exceptional leader who set a foundation for the school board to build on in the future.

“His leadership has been incredible,” Richardson said.

Richardson, a Democrat, said that she expected Villar to stay on until the end of October and that the board would begin work to get an interim superintendent with a goal of hiring a permanent successor as quickly as possible.

Republican board member Cristina Santos, who clashed with Villar on a number of issues and filed a complaint with the towns ethics commission over the awarding of a contract to conduct the Equity and Excellence review at the high school, wished him well Monday.

“It sounds like a wonderful opportunity for a change agent like Dr. Villar,” Santos said.

Villar, in a prepared statement, said he’s thrilled about his new job.

“I believe that my passion for education and its reform are directly aligned with the mission of CCER,” he said. “The achievement gap in Connecticut schools is among our state’s most critical public policy issues, and CCER has been in the forefront, supporting critical policy changes to address the issue.”

He also thanked the town for the opportunity to be superintendent. “I wish the community great success in the future,” he said.

In his new job, Villar will work to advance reform policies, defend those already in place, work to raise public awareness and focus on narrowing the achievement gap.

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