Seattle Schools' Food Guru Transferred; Says He Was Asked to Resign

Eric Boutin (right) says he was "not privy to" the district's agenda

Geez, was it something we said?

Right on the heels of our article spotlighting Eric Boutin's groundbreaking work to improve student meals at Seattle Public Schools came news that Boutin was being transferred out of his job as director of nutrition services.

Boutin said last night that the move stemmed from the district's change in leadership when superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson was ousted. (Susan Enfield is serving as interim superintendent.) "There's been, I guess I would say, an agenda that I've not really been privy to," he said. He said he was actually asked to resign, but declined -- and was told he'll now be a supervisor within the department and that the district will be bringing in a new interim director. It was presented as "a transfer under reorganization," he said.

We've left a message with the district to see what gives.

Boutin doesn't think the move was related to his push for whole foods and better nutrition. He's had "a rough go of it" with the food services union leadership, he said, but issues there centered on "the most basic management functions" such as grievances and requests for information, not on the changes he was championing.  

He hopes and believes that the district will still move forward with bringing healthier meals to children. "The cooks actually are really excited about this, and it may well be that they're going to go gangbusters, and I hope that's the case," he said.

We hope so too. But it bears mentioning that, when we talked with department staffers for our story, they said the changes they were making were things they had long wanted to do -- and it was Boutin's presence that made their goals a reality.