GPB has obtained previously unseen footage of former Bibb County schools Superintendent Romain Dallemand discussing his sudden departure last month.
Dallemand made international headlines by instituting universal Mandarin Chinese classes, but promptly disappeared from the public eye after negotiating a six figure contract buyout with the school board.
Lan Trinh, a New York-based filmmaker working on a documentary about Mandarin instruction, happened to be with Dallemand during his final days on the job.
In excerpts Trinh provided to GPB, the filmmaker asks Dallemand why he believed his policies had proven so controversial.
"Is it controversial for a superintendent to say, 'I want the best for all of my students?'" Dallemand asked rhetorically. "I want for all of my students to learn one of the most difficult languages on the planet, which is Mandarin Chinese. Is that controversial? If it is, I’ll do it all over again."
Dallemand and the school system were also facing multiple lawsuits over unrelated financial and administrative matters at the time he stepped down, and those issues continue.
Immediately following the February 25 meeting where Dallemand and board members finalized the buyout, he confided in Trinh: "I feel extremely sad. Not for me, I’m sad for the children, and the students in this community. Our students have so much potential."
"I'm hoping that the work that I started will be continued, for the sake of our students and for the sake of this community, because our children are so needy," Dallemand said.
Lan Trinh teaches journalism at The City University of New York. Her in-progress documentary is about the Chinese government-funded rise of Mandarin instruction in American elementary schools. More information is available on her Facebook page, and she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.