As I follow this strand of posts, I find it funny how we always seem to go in big circles. A circle that is generally driven by the politics of the organization. But no matter whether you are the Superintendent or Principal, the leader has to create the understanding that students are first. If this puts you in a contrary position with your boss (yes, Superintendents have a boss – seven of them to be precise) you have to decide how you are going to reconcile this with your beliefs.
Similar to old days when a preacher would often only stay at a church for about seven years, you have to realize that you can only take a person or organization so far, then it is time to pass the baton and move on. And I think this may be the heart of the issue. You have to start with what you are given and make it better for students, first and foremost. This may not be why you were hired, but it is the right thing to do.
Believe me, and I speak from experience, when you do the right things a number of people will hate you for it while you are there. But when you leave, they will praise you and remember you fondly. Unfortunately, the leadership I speak of (doing the right thing, because it is the right thing) is becoming more and more rare. It seems that most leaders care more about getting re-elected or renewed. The person who truly puts students first stands out in any system, in the wrong system that person becomes a target.