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Steve Barr leaves Green Dot board of directors, organization he founded

Steve Barr, Founder, Green Dot charter schools
Steve Barr, Founder, Green Dot charter schools
Courtesy Green Dot Public Schools

It’s the end of an era. Steve Barr, the founder of the 10,000 student Green Dot charter schools organization, resigned last week from the group’s board of directors, the company announced Monday.

Barr, who stepped down from day-to-day operations in 2009, said other school improvement projects are eating up his time.

“I’m the chair of a board for our school in New York," said Barr. "I’m the chair of the turnaround effort for the school we’re turning around in New Orleans and Green Dot’s board is generally run by an executive committee which I’m not a member of just because I don’t have the time for it."

Green Dot spokesman Gabriel Sanchez said the board of directors didn’t expect Barr’s departure. Barr told the board in an email sent to board chair Marlene Canter. It read, "Please accept my resignation from the board," and nothing else.

The brash former Democratic Party organizer famously clashed with L.A. Unified administrators and the president of the district’s teachers union when both opposed Green Dot’s efforts to open charters near the district’s low-performing schools.

The relationship has changed dramatically. He said he’s working with L.A. Unified to open three, small “schools within schools” next year.

UCLA education researcher John Rogers said Green Dot’s become a very different charter school management organization than what Barr founded nearly 15 years ago.

“As Green Dot has grown, it increasingly has asserted more centralized control over practices in individual schools,” Rogers said. "And that’s made Green Dot look more like a mini-school district."

Barr said differences with new management did not contribute to his decision to leave Green Dot’s board.