After 2 Votes, New Louisiana Education Superintendent Chosen
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The leader of one of Louisiana’s largest suburban school systems was chosen Wednesday as the state’s new education superintendent, defeating the business-backed candidate in a last-minute decision from the state’s top school board.
Jefferson Parish Schools Superintendent Cade Brumley won the second vote taken by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education after board members deadlocked on the first vote.
Brumley received the backing of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ three appointees to the K-12 education board, along with five elected members, including board President Sandy Holloway. Two-thirds of the 11-member board must agree to hire a superintendent. Brumley received exactly the eight votes needed.
“I look forward to bringing people together to collectively move our state forward,” Brumley said in a statement. “We are primed for continued improvement, drawing on successes of the past and the promise for our future. I will fight for our children, families and communities each day.”
Edwards said on his monthly radio show that he’s “excited” about Brumley’s selection. He praised the board’s process for choosing a new superintendent, which included video interviews posted online, as transparent even in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak.
“What I know and appreciate about Cade is that as a leader he has a record of being inclusive. He has a seat at the table for everyone as he seeks and listens to input from all stakeholders,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.
Brumley was favored over Jessica Baghian, an assistant state superintendent at the Department of Education who was backed by business organizations and pro-charter school groups, and Lonnie Luce, former superintendent of the St. James Parish school system.
Most of Wednesday’s public testimony came from groups and people supporting Baghian or not endorsing a specific contender. In the first round, board members voting on the candidates individually gave the three nominated contenders five votes of support each. Board members took a short recess, then came back for the second vote that selected Brumley.
Louisiana’s education superintendent oversees and sets policies governing more than 700,000 public school students across the state and will guide decisions about whether and how to reopen schools in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Longtime leader John White resigned as superintendent in March after holding the position since 2012. White received a $275,000 salary. The search for his replacement took four months. Beth Scioneaux, chief financial officer at the Education Department, has been working as acting superintendent since White’s exit.
Holloway said board members believe Brumley “can take us further down the path of reform and positive outcomes for students.”
It wasn’t immediately clear when Brumley would start in the position. Contract negotiations will decide his start date and salary, according to the education board. The contract will need approval from state lawmakers, and Brumley will need to be confirmed by the state Senate.
Brumley has worked as Jefferson Parish superintendent since 2018, overseeing a 51,000-student district that is the largest in the state. Before that, he was superintendent of the DeSoto Parish School System from 2012 through 2018. He was president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents in 2017.
He’s also worked as a school principal in Sabine Parish. He started his education career as a history teacher at J.S. Clark Middle School in Shreveport, according to his resume.
The eight education board members who backed Brumley were Holloway, Preston Castille, Belinda Davis, Tony Davis, Ashley Ellis, Kira Orange Jones, Thomas Roque and Doris Voitier.
The three board members who voted against Brumley were Holly Boffy, James Garvey and Ronnie Morris.
By AP reporter Melinda Deslatte