Two Candidates for Little Rock School District Leader Invited for Second Interview

The Little Rock School Board voted on Tuesday to extend second interview invitations to two candidates for superintendent in the district of 21,000 students.

The two finalists are George “Eric” Thomas, currently an educational leadership consultant at the University of Virginia; and Jermall Wright, a superintendent employed by Mississippi State for what have been two underperforming school systems.

The school board voted 8-0 in public — with board member Evelyn Callaway absent due to illness — to extend invitations after meeting for more than two hours in a closed-door executive session. The interviews would be in person.

Tuesday’s meeting followed the council’s first online interviews last week with Thomas, Wright and two other candidates – Stephanie Jones, who works in the Chicago public school system, and Lloyd Jackson, an assistant superintendent at the Kansas school. City, Missouri. district. Jackson is a former high school principal and assistant superintendent at Hot Springs.

The Little Rock School Board is working to select a replacement for current Little Rock superintendent Mike Poore, 60, who announced he will be retiring at the end of June after six years as district superintendent.

School board chairman Greg Adams said at the end of Tuesday’s meeting that he would be in touch with the consulting firm that is helping the district find a superintendent to schedule finalists’ schedules in Little Rock. and the activities in which they would participate. in – in addition to the board interviews – while here.

“We know we’re going to want to provide candidates with the opportunity to meet with representatives of central office staff, principals, teachers, classified personnel as well as some members of stakeholder groups in our community,” Adams said.

These should include parents, students and leaders of businesses and community organizations, he said.

“I think we might look at having an open session where anyone can come and meet and ask questions,” Adams also said, adding that showing candidates part of the city and some of the schools in the district would also be included in the itinerary. .

Thomas is a National Consultant for the Partnership for Leaders in Education at the University of Virginia and a former Deputy Superintendent/Chief Turnaround from 2017-2020 for the Georgia Board of Education.

Previously, he held various positions in the Cincinnati, Ohio school district, including director of innovation and high school principal.

Wright has served as the Superintendent of Schools since July 2019 for the Mississippi Achievement School District which is a branch of the Mississippi Board of Education and as such oversees the Yazoo City and Humphreys County school systems.

From 2017 to 2019, he was at one time Director of Studies and Accountability Manager in Birmingham, Alabama, and held administrative positions in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Denver, Colorado.

Both candidates hold a doctorate.

Little Rock School Board member Ali Noland moved the motion to extend invitations, seconded by Norma Johnson.

Noland, who thanked all applicants for their interest in the position, said after the meeting that everyone involved in the superintendent search process “appreciates the seriousness of the task.” She called the selection of a superintendent “one of the most important and impactful decisions a school board can make.

“Many LRSD stakeholder groups … will be involved in the second round of interviews, and the board will have the benefit of hearing their feedback,” Noland said.

Adams said BWP & Associates, the research firm, has advised the board to ask community members who interact with applicants to complete a feedback form, the information from which can be used by the board in its decision-making. .

Debra Hill, BWP & Associates’ senior consultant for Little Rock research, told the board earlier this year that candidates recommended by the firm to the board are those who match at least 80% of the qualifications and characteristics that board members council, district employees and others said they wanted the district general manager.

The feedback form will be based on previously identified characteristics and qualifications, Adams said.

Poore was superintendent of the Bentonville School District in 2016 when he was appointed by Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key to serve as superintendent in what was then the Little Rock District controlled by the state.

The District of Little Rock returned to the operation of a locally elected school board in late 2020.

In November, Poore’s contract was amended by the school board to give him a $36,000 raise to an annual salary of $270,000. This contract expires on June 30.

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