Nisha Patel

Nisha Patel

Fox C-6 School District Superintendent Nisha Patel is leaving at the end of this school year for a new job.

Patel, who has been the district’s superintendent for the last two school years, will become the superintendent at the School District of Clayton on July 1, according to announcements from the Fox and Clayton school districts today (Jan. 20).

In a letter to the Fox district community, Patel said, “I write to you to let you know that the Board of Education at The School District of Clayton approved me as their new superintendent, beginning on July 1. While I am excited about this new phase of my journey, it is with an extremely heavy heart that I write to you today.”

The School District of Clayton’s seven-person Board of Education voted unanimously Jan. 14 to hire Patel as the district’s next superintendent, Clayton chief communications officer Chris Tennill said.

Patel, 48, of Chesterfield will have a three-year contract with Clayton, and she will be paid $215,000 in her first year, the School District of Clayton said.

Patel, who is in her 22nd year as an educator, is being paid $182,500 by the Fox district this school year.

Patel was named Fox’s superintendent on Jan. 29, 2019. She took over for Jim Wipke, who left the Fox district at the end of the 2018-2019 school year to become the superintendent at the Ladue School District.

Patel came to Fox in 2016, when she was named the district’s assistant superintendent in charge of secondary education.

“I want to first congratulate Dr. Patel and thank her for her years of service here at Fox C-6,” Fox Board of Education president Vicki Hanson said in a written statement today. “We are truly grateful for Dr. Patel’s leadership and wish her the very best. I am extremely confident we will find a new superintendent who will continue the tradition of academic excellence in Fox C-6.”

Hanson said Board of Education members will meet in a closed session at 4:30 p.m. today (Jan. 21) to vote on releasing Patel from her contract. Hanson said an open meeting will follow at 5 p.m. for board members to discuss how they will search for the district’s next superintendent.

Board meetings are held at the Fox C-6 Service Center, 849 Jeffco Blvd., in Arnold.

In its announcement, the Clayton district said Patel is replacing Sean Doherty, who has served as Clayton’s superintendent for the last five years and announced in September his plans to retire at the end of this school year.

Clayton district officials said Patel was one of 22 applicants they considered for the position.

“Dr. Patel understands the power of establishing strong student, staff and community relationships, which are the ultimate foundation for student success," Clayton Board of Education president Joe Miller said in today’s announcement. "Even though our next superintendent is coming to us from only 20 miles away, our national search allowed the board to connect with a number of talented administrators as we worked to find the best person to lead us here in Clayton. We are confident we have found that person in Dr. Patel."

Before she came to the Fox district, Patel had worked in the Rockwood School District.

Patel started her administrative career in 2009 as the assistant principal at Eureka High School, and then she was the associate principal at Rockwood’s Lafayette High School from 2011 to 2013.

She finished her time at Rockwood as principal at Crestview Middle School, a job she started in 2013. While Patel was principal at Crestview, it was named a Lighthouse School by the “Leader in Me” program.

Patel, who lives in Chesterfield, started her teaching career in 1999 as a science teacher in Kansas City, Kan.

She came to the St. Louis area in 2007, when she was hired as a science teacher at Eureka High.

Fox C-6 Board of Education members voted unanimously last March to extend Patel’s contract by one year, but not without some controversy.

When the board voted March 3 to extend the contract, it was the second time the board had considered the contract extension.

In a Feb. 4 closed meeting, Carole Yount, Vicki Hanson, Judy Smith and Jim Chellew voted to delay making a decision on her contract for several months, not until October. Steve Holloway, Scott Stewart and Dawn Mullins voted against waiting to vote on the contract extension.

After that vote, district staff and residents who opposed the decision showed up at a school board meeting on Feb. 18 to show their support for Patel. The board voted in a March 3 closed session to extend the contract, and Yount, the board president at the time, announced the extension during the public meeting that followed.

Yount’s announcement during the March public meeting was met with applause from the group of staff and residents who attended that meeting to support Patel.

When Patel became Fox’s superintendent on July 1, 2019, she received a three-year contract and a $182,500 annual salary.

Patel’s contract was set to expire in June 2023, and the extension last February did not change her salary.

“As we move forward, we must always continue to focus on our students and their success, give them space to learn and grow, challenge them academically and love them endlessly,” Patel wrote in her resignation announcement. “My hope is that I was able to play a small part of the success we have seen over the past five years and helped to make this district stronger.

“I would like you to know that I will continue to do my best in the upcoming months as we navigate through this pandemic and finish the second semester strong. Please know that I have been and always will be humbled to be your superintendent.”