January 31, 2019

New IPS Superintendent Could Be Hired By May

Aleesia Johnson, IPS' interim superintendent, has worked with the district for three years.  - Photo by WFYI News.

Aleesia Johnson, IPS' interim superintendent, has worked with the district for three years.

Photo by WFYI News.

The Indianapolis Public Schools commissioners plan to hire the next superintendent in May.

The board released an update on the search process Thursday night with public engagement as a focus. A local community group critical of district policies recently called for transparency and buy-in from the public in the candidate selection.

Former IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee was tapped as the new leader of Washington, D.C. schools late last year, and Aleesia Johnson, the former Deputy Superintendent of Academics, was appointed as interim superintendent.

On Tuesday, the IPS Community Coalition, a group that supported two current board commissioners in November's general election, released a statement critical of Johnson and the district’s direction.

“The experience and qualifications of Interim Superintendent Aleesia Johnson, although fitting within the state legal requirements for superintendent positions, are lacking,” the statement read.

Johnson has declined to comment on her interest in the IPS superintendent position but has indicated her support for the district policies laid out by Ferebee, including support for innovation schools. A controversial model where public IPS schools are run by third-party groups.

The IPS Community Coalition statement also voices concerns the search process would be rushed without community engagement, resulting in a final candidate selection in March.

However, the memo released by the board on Thursday indicates a search process with a final selection in May. The school board’s memo also notes in February there will be three public meetings to gather public feedback and input. In May, the community will be given the opportunity to meet candidates prior to a final decision, according to the plan.

Indianapolis Purdue University - Indiana University School of Education will assist the board in the search for a new superintendent. In a large urban district such as IPS, superintendent candidates can be drawn from across the country.

During the last superintendent search, Ferebee was among a handful of out-of-state candidates.

The school board will get the final say in who is the next leader of the state’s largest school district.

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