Fort Worth Independent School District Superintendent Melody Johnson submitted her resignation to the school board on Thursday.
In the letter to the board Johnson said: "For 36 years, I have been involved in unifying educators and working side-by-side with them to ensure the best for students. In recent months however, it has been increasingly difficult to remain effectively focused on the instructional agenda for our students."
Johnson did not elaborate further in the letter but said in a her regular "Message from Melody" posting on FWISD's website that it wasn't an easy decision.
"Please know that this decision was not made easily, nor was it made in the past few days," Johnson wrote. "It is the result of careful, thoughtful and prayerful consideration over many months. Also, please know that I have a heart that is full to the brim with gratitude for the tremendous progress that has been made over the last few years."
Johnson's departure caught some off guard but didn't surprise Ray Dickerson, school board president.
"I wasn't surprised at all," he said. "Anybody that's been watching our school board could probably have predicted that something like this was going to happen sooner or later."
Dickerson said the board is divided and that Johnson has become a lightning rod in recent months.
"I feel like she thinks she's doing the right thing, the classy thing, because she has serious doubts that she can be an effective leader under those circumstances," he said.
Juan Rangel, the board's vice president, said he was surprised by the resignation.
"It's a decision that does surprise me, and we have to deal with that," Rangel said. "But we've got some good people in place because of Dr. Johnson, and I think we have a bright future."
But the board is clearly divided on several issues, among them Johnson's departure. While some trustees said Thursday that they were disappointed, others said they were not.
"I think it's a step in the right direction," Rangel said.
"Unfortunately, I think today is a sad day for our district and our city," Dickerson said.
FWISD sent out an email with 21 bullet points of achievements from Johnson's tenure, including significant TAKS gains during 2009-2010 school year for all students in all subjects, the reinstatement of art and music in every elementary school and the passage of the largest bond package of $600 million in capital improvements, as well as an on-time, on-budget outcome.
Johnson joined the Fort Worth ISD in July 2005. She has not announced her future plans. If her resignation is accepted, Johnson's tenure would conclude on Sept. 19.