Guilford County School Superintendent Sharon Contreras announced in a letter to school employees on Friday, Jan. 14 that she would be leaving at the end of the school year.

In the letter, Contreras states that she has accepted the position of CEO of The Innovation Project, “which bring together forward-thinking North Carolina school district superintendents to find and implement innovative and transformative practices in public education so that students and their communities can thrive.”

Contreras has been superintendent since August 2016 and in 2020 was reportedly on the short list of those being considered by the Biden administration for secretary of education.

But her tenure as Guilford County School superintendent has not been without controversy.

In 2017, a personal email from Guilford County Board of Education member Anita Sharpe that called for Contreras to be fired was leaked to the public, which led to groups calling for Sharpe to resign.

In 2019, then Guilford County Board of Education member Darlene Garrett announced that after serving on the school board for 20 years she would not be running for reelection.  She said that one of the reasons for her decision was that she could not continue to serve while Contreras was superintendent.  Garrett complained about a lack of communication between her and Contreras and not being included in the decision-making process.

Garrett had also been quoted as saying that there were four votes to fire Contreras on the nine-member school board, but not five.

The majority of the school board supported Contreras and had extended her contract to 2025.

More recently Contreras made the controversial decision to suspend school bus transportation to eight Guilford County high schools because of the lack of school bus drivers had been exacerbated by having a large number unable to work because of COVID-19.

It was arranged for high school students take city buses to school at no cost to the students.