An outspoken Hilton Head Island school board member who has had a stormy relationship with the school district in the past has resigned to take a teaching job under the new superintendent he voted to hire.
Mike Sanz announced his resignation at Tuesday's Beaufort County Board of Education meeting.
Sanz, whose term expires in 2014, said he is stepping down to fill a vacant teaching position in the district's Gateway alternative education program for middle school students with serious disciplinary problems. He begins the job Monday.
"I'm hoping to do some real positive things for our kids who are at risk," Sanz said after the meeting. "It was a tough decision in some ways, but the right decision. ... As important as this job is being a member of the school board, it does get you a couple of levels away from directly working with kids.
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"I had a lot of time to reflect, and what I realized was I really felt that I am most effective working with students," he said. "This will bring me back to that point ... so we can have these kids redirected in the right way."
Sanz said he did not know what his salary will be.
Superintendent Jeffrey Moss could not recall the figure when asked by a reporter Tuesday night.
Based on the district's pay scale for teachers, Sanz could make as much as $60,605, based on his 22 years of teaching experience and a master's degree.
Both he and Moss downplayed Sanz's turbulent past with the school district.
"I've read some of things about him printed in the paper, but have not experienced any of those personally," Moss said of Sanz's confrontational approach toward district leadership in the past. "I understand he's been a very good teacher in the classroom. He has taught before in the district ... and was the most-qualified candidate."
Moss said he could not recall how many other candidates there were for the job.
'A FRESH START'
In May 2010, Sanz, then a teacher at Bluffton High School, sent a mass email from his school district account criticizing the local education system. His 1,700-word treatise said three pillars of quality education -- respect, discipline and courage -- were lacking in Beaufort County schools.
In response, Sanz's district-issued laptop was confiscated and his email privileges temporarily suspended. Schools officials told him all communications using district technology should support the district's objectives, be polite and use appropriate language.
Sanz said he believed his email met those criteria, although it included profanity.
The district later restored his privileges and offered him a contract for the next school year.
Later, as a newly-elected school board member, Sanz criticized district leaders for thwarting his attempts to reach out to teachers and staff to try to improve school discipline.
"Issues occurred and things happened, but it's a new administration and I'm looking at this as a fresh start and am excited to have Dr. Moss here," Sanz said Tuesday. "I'm not going to worry about things that happened in the past. ... I still believe in the three pillars. That hasn't changed. ... I think that's the best way to get the most out of our children and I think we hired the right guy."
Of Moss, Sanz said. "I think he's a veteran who understands the importance of discipline and students respecting the (learning) process."
Sanz left his job as a science teacher at H.E. McCracken Middle School after the 2011-12 school year to start an anti-bullying program and write an as yet unpublished book on the topic.
In July 2012, he announced he would run as a write-in candidate for the board of education. He said he didn't file a petition allowing him to appear on the ballot because in the weeks before the deadline, he was still deciding whether to return to his job at McCracken. State law prohibits district employees from serving as school board members.
Sanz won the District 10 seat in the November general election with fewer than 400 write-in votes, joining an 11-member board with seven newcomers.
Sanz departure will require a special election, according to state law. A date has not been set.
School board chairman Bill Evans hopes it can coincide with a December special election to fill Steve Baer's County Council seat as a way to save taxpayer money.
Baer and Sanz represent the same district.
County officials have said they could spend as much as $36,000 for the special election to fill Baer's seat.
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom