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12 bid to be Little Rock School District chief; 2 have Arkansas experience

by Cynthia Howell | March 15, 2022 at 6:54 a.m.
FILE — Little Rock School District headquarters are shown in this 2019 file photo.

A dozen people from multiple states -- two with previous experience in Arkansas -- are candidates for the position of Little Rock School District superintendent.

The current and former superintendents, associate superintendents and chief academic or operations officers are seeking to replace Little Rock Superintendent Mike Poore, 60, who announced in December that he will retire at the conclusion of this school year.

All of the applicants have doctorate degrees.

The Little Rock School District released the applications Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request last week from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. March 5 was the deadline for candidates to apply to the search firm.

"The Little Rock School District is committed to following all state expectations, including the Freedom of Information Act," School Board President Greg Adams said in an e-mailed statement Monday.

"Our endeavor throughout the superintendent search process has been to be transparent with our stakeholders," Adams continued. "On Wednesday, our Board and our community will be able to continue their ongoing engagement in this effort. The Little Rock School District remains focused on finding an outstanding superintendent to continue the progress of our district."

The list of applicants comes in advance of that 5:30 p.m. Wednesday meeting, during which consultants from the BWP & Associates executive search firm are to present the board with a slate of applicants they consider to be the most qualified and the best match for the 21,000-student district.

The School Board is expected to identify from the recommended candidates a smaller number of persons to interview online and in person after next week's spring break vacation.

The role of BWP & Associates of Libertyville, Ill., has been to facilitate the search by posting advertisements and encouraging persons to apply by a March 5 deadline. The consultants were then in charge of vetting the applicants in preparation for making a recommendation to the Little Rock board.

The applicants and a brief description of their credentials -- based on the applications -- are:

• David Dude, who most recently was superintendent of the 6,000-student school district in Decatur, Ga., where he worked from November 2015 until June, leaving to care for a family member. He was chief operating officer in Iowa's Iowa City Schools from 2011-2015, and started his career as a math teacher in 1996. His PhD in educational policy and leadership studies is from the University of Iowa.

• George "Eric" Thomas who was most recently deputy superintendent/chief turnaround officer for the Georgia Department of Education, where he worked from August 2017 to July 2020 when the program ended. From 2012 to 2017, he was chief support officer at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville's Partnership for Leaders in Education, and before that worked primarily in the Cincinnati school system starting in 1994 in different roles that included chief innovation officer from 2010 to 2012. Thomas has a PhD in leadership from the University of Chicago in Concordia, Ill.

• James Drake has been associate superintendent and chief business officer in the 2,500-student Gonzales, Calif., Unified school system since September 2020. He was director of district improvement for DTG Associates in Westmont, Ill., for two years and area instruction director in the Thornton School District in South Holland, Ill., from 2012 to 2019. He started his teaching career at Rockford, Ill., in 1988. Drake has a doctorate in educational leadership from Northern Illinois University.

• Jermall D. Wright has been since May 2019 the superintendent the Mississippi Achievement District, which is a function of the Mississippi Department of Education and for which he oversees improvement strategies in Yazoo City and Humphreys County school systems. He was previously chief academic and accountability officer in the 23,000-student Birmingham, Ala., school system from 2017-19, and held administrative roles in Philadelphia and Denver. He was a principal in Washington, D.C., and Jacksonville, Fla. Wright has a doctorate in leadership for educational equity from University of Colorado at Denver.

• Jesse L. Jackson is a Florida educator who since 2020 has been senior director for the Bureau of Educators Recruitment, Development and Retention for the Florida Department of Education. He previously was the 13-year superintendent of Lake Wales Fla., charter schools. Before that was he was superintendent of the Florida Sate University Schools in Tallahassee, Fla. Jackson has a doctorate in educational leadership from Florida State University.

• Jharrett Bryantt has been a Houston, Texas, Independent School district employee since 2013 and is currently in the role of executive officer of talent for 26,000 employees. Bryantt previously served as an assistant superintendent for the system's office of strategy and innovation and in other roles within the district. He was a geometry teacher and held other positions for the YES Prep Public Schools in 2011 -2013. His undergraduate college work was at Yale University. He has a doctorate of education from the University of Texas.

• Lloyd D. Jackson has been an assistant superintendent of school leadership in the Kansas City, Mo., School District since 2019. He formerly was an educator in the Hot Springs School District from 2005 to 2019, including serving as deputy superintendent from 2017-19 and principal of Hot Springs World Class High School from 2013-17. He started his career in 2003 as a math teacher in the Arkadelphia School District. Jackson has a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

• C. Michael Robinson Jr., worked from 2021-to 2022 as chief academic officer of the East Baton Rouge Parish School with 41,000 students. He is a former superintendent of the Pine Bluff School District, working there from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that he was instructional director and a principal in the Prince George's County Public Schools in Maryland. That came after educator roles in Meriwether County, Henry County, Butts County and Fulton County school systems in Georgia. He was a teacher in the Alief Independent School District in Houston, Texas, and started his career as a teacher in 1989 in Lafourche Parish schools in Louisiana. Robinson has a doctorate in educational leadership from Argosy University.

• Patrick L. Rice has been superintendent in of Cairo, Ill., since 2020. He previously worked as a field services and equity director for the Illinois Association of School Boards between 2010 and 2019. He was a principal in Danville and Mount Vernon, Ill., and is the author of three books. Rice has a PhD in educational leadership from Southern Illinois University.

• Sabrina T. Winfrey has been executive director of federal programs and curriculum and instruction for the Anniston, Ala., school system since 2020. Previously she was an interim principal in Lawrence, Kan.; principal in the Hickman Mills school system in the Kansas City, Kan., area and principal of an alternative school in the Greene County School District in Greensboro, Ga. Winfrey has a doctorate in educational leadership from Argosy University that is based in Sarasota, Fla.

• Stephanie N. Jones has worked in the Chicago school district as the chief officer for Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services since 2019. She is an Illinois special education educator, having also worked in the South Holland School District, Carver Military Academy High in Chicago and the Air Force Academy Public High School that is part of the Chicago system. Jones has a PhD from Capella University.

• Tarrynce G. Robinson has been a school support officer in the Houston, Texas, Independent School District since 2017. Most of Robinson's career has been in the Houston system, starting in 1999 as a teacher and moving to assistant principal and principal roles. Robinson has a doctorate in education leadership from the University of Houston.

BWP & Associates' work for the Little Rock district carries a base fee of $40,000, plus advertising, travel and community survey costs.

BWP has in the recent past facilitated superintendent searches for the Chicago public schools, as well as for DeKalb County, Ga.; Columbus, Ohio; Madison, Wis.; and in Virginia -- the Prince William County and Arlington districts.

Poore is nearing the completion of his sixth year as the chief executive of the 21,000-student district.

He was superintendent of the Bentonville School District in 2016 when he was appointed by Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key to the superintendent's job in what was at the time the state-controlled district. The district was returned to the operation of a locally elected School Board in late 2020.

In November, Poore's contract was amended to give him a $36,000 raise to an annual salary of $270,000. That contract expires June 30.

By the time he serves out his contract, Poore will be the longest-serving Little Rock School District superintendent since Floyd Parsons, who was superintendent from 1961 to 1972.


Print Headline: 12 bid to be Little Rock School District chief

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