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Jefferson Parish School Board Votes To Hire New Superintendent

Cade Brumley takes questions before being appointed superintendent.
Jess Clark
WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio
Cade Brumley takes questions before being appointed superintendent.

After hours of public comment, the Jefferson Parish School Board voted Monday night to hire a new superintendent. Cade Brumley, who currently leads DeSoto Parish Schools, was the only applicant for the job. Now he’s set to become the leader of the state’s largest school system, pending successful contract negotiations.

"He's going to be a great leader for Jefferson Parish," board member Melinda Doucet said. "And I hope you all will give him a chance to show his true leadership abilities, because at this time I think it's quite obvious that we all do need leadership."

Jefferson Parish Schools is without a superintendent after the board ousted Isaac Joseph from the position last month — four months shy of the end of his contract. Some board members said they were disappointed with student test scores under his leadership. The district's school performance grade dropped from a B to a C in 2016. The board is paying out the remainder of Joseph's $210,000 annual salary.

The board then opened the position for 30 days. Two people applied, but one candidate withdrew after the district discovered an issue with his paperwork. That left just one candidate: Brumley.

Suzanne Nugent was among many teachers who called for the school board to slow down the search and make the process more transparent.

"You didn't do it right," Nugent told the board during public comment before the vote. "Thirty days for 49,000 students? Is that all they’re worth?"

Many teachers associated with the district's teachers' union expressed concern that Brumley, who leads a district of about 5,000 students, will not be prepared to handle a district 10 times that size.

The speediness of the hire has also given rise to rumors that "the fix was in" to put Brumley in the post. But Morgan says Brumley is right for the job.

"I don't want to risk him moving on," Morgan said. "I believe we opened it up for public input, and nothing that I heard in the questions or input tonight would change my opinion about Mr. Brumley."

Brumley has earned praise for increasing academic performance in DeSoto Parish — even amid plummeting revenues. He says in Jefferson Parish he plans to craft a vision and strategic plan with input from teachers and community members.

"We have to be as strategic as possible and as urgent as possible because so many of the conversations that happen about education in the state of Louisiana are about adults and not kids, and we need to make our conversations about kids," Brumley said.

Brumley also expressed interest in raising teacher pay when questioned on the topic.

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