GAPS Loses Executive Director in Powerful Exchange

The Greater Albany Public School District is having trouble keeping employees onboard. The latest to leave is Executive Director of Operations, Russell Buttram, who announced his resignation via Facebook over the weekend. In his letter to his GAPS colleagues, Buttram calls his decision to resign “not an impulse” but a choice made in “good conscience.”  

His resignation letter states, “I did not come to this conclusion easily or lightly and I deeply regret that I could not find an alternative path.” Adding, “When I was hired in 2016 (five Superintendents ago), I intended to retire from GAPS, but I need to be able to look at myself in the mirror and know that I have done the right thing.”  

Perhaps assuming that his leaving would bring to mind the fact that GAPS Superintendent Melissa Goff was fired, Buttram said, “No one asked me to resign. I simply reached a point where I felt I could not support the actions of the new Board, nor reconcile their campaign promises with the actual actions I’ve observed. Since I could not square my values with those of the people in charge, I had to leave.”  

Buttram went on to call the actions of the new Board “neither transparent nor fiscally wise” – likely alluding to promises made while Board members were campaigning for their seat. He then divulged that Roger Nyquist, a Board member for Zone 2, had arranged the hiring of Rich Sipe as Chief of Staff while new Superintendent Rob Saxton was on vacation – adding “Board members should not be involved in staffing decisions below the Superintendent. Period.” Comments about the Board hoping to “enrich their friends” and implications of corruption being the “consequence of elections” followed.   

Perhaps most evocative, Buttram made a comparison between the School Board and Segregation, writing, “If you ever watch documentaries from the 60s, they all include the same B-roll of George Wallace saying ‘segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.’ Given how I look, I do not want the YouTube videos of our Board meetings to imply that I agree with this modern, less overt, version of white supremacy.” Later saying, “I’m not calling this Board or the Interim Superintendent overt racists. I simply believe they have a vested interest in retaining power and privilege for those groups in Albany that have historically possessed it.” 

Prior to working for the school district, Buttram served in the Marine Corp for 20 years. 

By Sally K Lehman