Superintendent’s new boss: ‘He was going to leave anyway’

Even if Palm Beach County schools Superintendent Robert Avossa hadn’t accepted a job as senior vice president at LRP Publications, the well-regarded educator would have moved on, his new boss said.

“Robert is so good that he was being recruited by some even bigger districts and some states to be state superintendent,” LRP owner Ken Kahn said Friday in an interview. “Frankly, I think he was going to leave anyway.”

Palm Beach Gardens-based LRP publishes newsletters, books and online publications that are used by nearly all the nation’s 12,000 school districts, Kahn said.

As a special-education teacher and director in Orlando in the 1990s, Avossa read LRP’s publications, Kahn said. As a superintendent, Avossamade an unpaid presentation at LRP’s annual Future of Education Technology conference, an event that drew 10,000 educators this past month in Orlando.

After Avossa, 46, became Palm Beach County schools superintendent in 2015, Kahn said, the two saw one another about once a month at various functions of the Business Development Board, the Economic Council and the Education Foundation.

At an event in November, Avossa told Kahn that he had been contacted about other high-profile posts.

“I said, ‘Look, if you’re being recruited and you’re going to leave, talk to me first,’” Kahn said.

Asked if he was paying Avossa more than his superintendent’s salary of $334,750, Kahn said, “I am. Not a lot, but I am.”

Avossa had been mentioned as a possible candidate for superintendent in New York City, the nation’s largest public school system, but he said he didn’t want to leave Palm Beach County. Avossa called the job at LRP “truly unique.”

“I get to stay in the community I love and continue my work on a much larger scale,” Avossa wrote in a statement Friday. “I’ve certainly had offers floated to me for many roles over the last seven years (as superintendent), but a scenario that involved making my children change schools was a non-starter.”

Avossa has a child in high school and another in middle school.

Kahn’s pitch was smoothed by LRP’s status as the nation’s largest provider of content about special education, Avossa’s area of specialty. For LRP, Avossa brings the cachet that goes along with running one of the nation’s largest school districts and winning high marks for his performance.

“It’s a win-win for both of us,” Kahn said. “I wouldn’t have offered him the job if it wasn’t good for us.”

Kahn said he has plans for future growth in education publications and events, although he wouldn’t divulge details. Kahn, 70, said he didn’t offer Avossa the promise of becoming CEO of his $70 million-a-year operation.

Jana Kahn, Kahn’s wife and LRP’s chief marketing officer, is next in line.

“If I get hit by a bus, my wife takes over,” Kahn said.

In his resignation announcement Monday, Avossa said he wanted to spend more time with his family. Kahn said Avossa won’t have to attend meetings and events at night as an executive at LRP, and he’s likely to have more control over his schedule.

School board members were surprised by Avossa’s sudden departure, considering his glowing reviews in his most recent performance evaluation. Avossa became Palm Beach County’s superintendent in June 2015. He previously was superintendent of Fulton County Schools in Georgia for four years.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in

Boca West’s new GM says job means you’re “always on stage”
Boca West’s new GM says job means you’re “always on stage”

To call Boca West a country club doesn’t quite do the organization justice. It’s a mammoth operation that boasts more than 6,000 residents and pulls in more than $50 million a year in revenue. Matthew Linderman came to work for Boca West Country Club in 2005, and longtime General Manager Jay DiPietro groomed Linderman as his replacement...
Condo Act does not restrict nonresident owners from serving on panel

Question: I am an original condo owner (46 years) in our building. I am originally from New York. In the past six years, we have become Florida residents, spending six months per year in Florida. Our community needs a lot of work, and last year I invited several neighbors to my home to talk about what we could do to improve the look of the community...
PIP lawsuits explode to record
PIP lawsuits explode to record

A no-fault car insurance system that was supposed to reduce lawsuits in Florida has instead produced a record mountain of more than 60,000 in 2017, a new report shows. That represents a stunning rise of close to 50 percent in one year, according to data from The Florida Justice Reform Institute, a group that says it fights against wasteful litigation...
After price cut, former New York Yankee’s mansion listed at $14 million
After price cut, former New York Yankee’s mansion listed at $14 million

Former New York Yankees pitcher Jeff Nelson has cut his price and hired a new agent to market his mansion in Jupiter. Nelson now is asking $14 million for the 11,000-square-foot crib along the Intracoastal Waterway at Admirals Cove. Billy Nash of The Keyes Co. is the new listing agent of the 1.1-acre estate. “It was listed last year at $19 million...
Should you talk about your pay? Career experts weigh in
Should you talk about your pay? Career experts weigh in

Even with nearly every cultural taboo thrown to the wind− from discussing sexual orientation to politics; one last conversational taboo still exist among Americans − how much we get paid. "These days, it's okay to talk about the troubles we're having with our children or even our marriages," noted one blogger from PayScale...
More Stories