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School Chief Kills Self, Blames Cleveland

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Associated Press

The city’s superintendent of schools shot himself to death in the stairwell of a high school after writing a letter saying he had become “sickened” by the “petty politics” of school board members who reportedly planned to oust him, officials said today.

“As of this moment, it appears that my last piece of dignity is being stripped,” wrote Frederick D. Holliday, 58, whose body was found by a student at Aviation High School this morning, two days after he killed himself. A .357-Magnum revolver also was found, detective Robert Bolton said.

A supporter of Holliday, Cleveland’s first black superintendent, confirmed the board had planned to oust him from his job.

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The letter, dated 11 a.m. Saturday and addressed “To the citizens of Cleveland and the children and staff of the Cleveland Public Schools,” was found in the principal’s office of the high school.

The letter contained typographical and grammatical errors, and Holliday noted in a postcript: “Kids, if there are any errors in this letter, I did not proof it carefully.”

“The fighting among school baord members and what petty politics is doing to the system has sickened me. . . . The events of the past few weeks makes my reporting to work meaningless. . . . There is a mindlessness that has nothing to do with the education of children or the welfare of the city. This hurts most of all,” the letter said.

Aviation High School, near Burke Lakefront Airport, has an air traffic control tower, and Holliday had kept a small plane at the school, Bolton said. Holliday’s body, with a single gunshot wound to the chest, was found in the stairwell leading to the tower.

The death was ruled a suicide by Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Lester Adelson.

Holliday, a widower with two daughters, had been superintendent of the Plainfield, N.J., school system and worked in the Philadelphia school system from 1950 to 1971.

Of his death, Holliday wrote in the letter: “Use this event to rid yourself of petty politics, racial politics, greed, hate and corruption . . . . I have no malice for anyone, only love and sadness. “

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