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New Orleans school board member steps down, citing daughter’s bid for superintendent

NOLA Public Schools
John Brown photographed at the Orleans Parish School Board's office in Algiers.

Longtime educator John Brown will resign from New Orleans’ school board, as his daughter vies to become the district’s next superintendent, officials said Monday.

His daughter, Jawan Brown-Alexander, became an official candidate when she submitted her materials on March 3, at which point Brown recused himself from the search process, according to the district.

Brown has already submitted his formal resignation to the state and is awaiting its approval.

In a statement, board member Ethan Ashley said Brown was “showing the utmost respect for the district” by choosing to step away now and “remove any question about the transparency and integrity of the superintendent search process.”

Ashley, who chairs the district’s superintendent search committee, described Brown’s character as “unassailable.”

Once Brown’s resignation is recognized by the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office, the board will have 20 days to appoint a replacement to serve until a special election can be held.

Brown represents District 1, which covers the Lower 9th Ward and eastern New Orleans. He was first elected to the board in 2015 and received 52% of votes when he was re-elected for a second 4-year term ending in 2024.

District superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. thanked Brown for dedicating his life to the children and students of New Orleans.

“His leadership, integrity and commitment to putting students first has positively impacted countless lives, especially as a mentor to young Black men,” Lewis said.

Brown, a native New Orleanian, spent 30 years working in the city’s public school system as a teacher and principal before retiring in 2003.

His accomplishments as a board member include pushing for later pickup times for children who ride the bus to school and for parent representation on all charter boards. Brown has also consistently pushed for better teacher training, higher pay and benefits.

The district’s search firm Greenwood/Asher & Associates said it hopes to hire a new superintendent by early April. Other than Brown-Alexander, officials have not released the names of other candidates vying for the position.

Brown-Alexander’s work with New Orleans’ public schools dates back to at least 2000, when she served as an administrator for the district overseeing federally funded programs, according to her LinkedIn.

Most recently she served as chief of schools for New Schools for New Orleans, a nonprofit formed after Hurricane Katrina that works closely with the district.

Lewis has been the district’s superintendent since 2015 and announced last June that he would leave the position when his contract expired at the end of 2021-22 school year.

Aubri Juhasz is the education reporter for New Orleans Public Radio. Before coming to New Orleans, she was a producer for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. She helped lead the show's technology and book coverage and reported her own feature stories, including the surge in cycling deaths in New York City and the decision by some states to offer competitive video gaming to high school students as an extracurricular activity.

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