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Baltimore city school teachers and other employees stand in line at the school system's headquarters on North Avenue on Friday, waiting for paychecks that were not issued to many employees.
Baltimore city school teachers and other employees stand in line at the school system's headquarters on North Avenue on Friday, waiting for paychecks that were not issued to many employees. (Erica L. Green / Baltimore Sun)

The head of Baltimore city schools' human capital office has departed the job, city school officials confirmed Friday, a move that comes after weeks of high-profile mismanagement issues including teacher vacancies and paycheck shortages.

Citing personnel protocols, a spokeswoman for the district would only say that Lisa Grillo, hired by city schools CEO Gregory Thornton last year, "is no longer with the district."

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But in an email to The Sun, Grillo said she resigned.

"The decision to resign was a difficult one for me," she wrote, "but I made the decision as a single mother to focus my attention on my mother who recently suffered a stroke and my 6-year-old son."

Thornton appointed Grillo to his cabinet last July. She had previously served as the chief human resources officer in the Baltimore County public school system.

In recent weeks, Grillo's office has come under fire as it scrambled to fill hundreds of teacher vacancies and a handful of principal vacancies in the days before the school year opened. Dozens of vacancies still existed at the first week of school, and as recently as last week many teachers who had been hired were still waiting to be processed by the district.

Thornton and Grillo defended the vacancy rate as the best in years.

Last week, Grillo's office came under fire again when thousands of teacher paychecks were shorted and hundreds of staff members failed to be paid at all.

Grillo had said in previous years, pay raises had not shown up until October. Thornton told a TV station – as he visited with school staff who had to stand in line for hours into the evening to receive a paycheck at all on Sept. 11 –  that the paycheck mishap was due to a glitch and an antiquated payroll system.

The Baltimore Teachers Union blasted the mishap as "outrageous and unfair," and union leaders said they were assured contractual pay raises would be processed by September.

On Friday, the union declined to comment on Grillo's departure,

The office first began facing criticism last spring, when it oversaw the first layoffs in the district in more than a decade -- a process described by some as chaotic and lacking transparency. Thornton said the layoffs were necessary in order to help close a budget gap, and would reflect an overall reduction in force.

In June, The Sun requested information on positions that were cut, positions added and how much in savings the reduction of force generated. This week, the district responded with a list of 34 positions and have not yet provided other information requested.

Grillo said she was "proud of the work that the district accomplished in the 14 months that I led the Office of Human Capital, including filling more than 100 teacher vacancies than the previous year and finding many staff members who were to be laid off positions so that they could continue their service to students."

"It is my hope that at a time the district is facing this urgent financial crisis, stakeholders come together to support district leadership's efforts to modernize our central office systems so that the district may better serve its employees," she wrote.

erica.green@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EricaLG

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