Superintendent Search Committee Recommends Three – One with Local Ties

Three candidates have been forwarded to the Boston School Committee for consideration as the next superintendent of schools – including one candidate who attended Boston Public Schools and is now the headmaster at Cathedral High in the South End.

The announcement came Wednesday morning, noting that the Superintendent Search Committee had decided on three finalists. They include Dr. Brenda Cassellius, Marie Izquierdo, and Dr. Oscar Santos.

The finalists come from a very diverse initial list of 150 candidates that were narrowed down to 39. The Search Committee has been conducting private interviews of the semi-finalists for the last month, using the help of search firm Isaacson, Miller.

School Committee members said they were very happy with the job done by the Search Committee.

“The Superintendent Search Committee has done a tremendous job carefully assessing candidates to ensure our next superintendent will continue making necessary progress for the Boston Public Schools,” said Boston School Committee Chair Michael Loconto. “It’s imperative that our next district leader shares our commitments to equity, closing achievement gaps, and providing a high-quality education for students of all backgrounds. We are pleased to see all three finalists share our values, and we look forward to a thoughtful public dialogue.”

Initially, one of the most intriguing candidates is Santos, who is currently the Cathedral High head of school. More importantly, Santos is one of the first superintendent candidates in a long time to have actually attended Boston Public Schools, graduating from Boston Latin School. Santos previously served as Superintendent of the Randolph public schools from 2010-2013; and worked in the Boston Public Schools in various roles from 1996-2010, spending his last six years as headmaster of Boston International Newcomers Academy. He is married and the father of two children.

The other candidates – one from Minnesota and the other from Miami – are as follows:

•Dr. Brenda Cassellius, who was recently Commissioner of Education for the state of Minnesota. Serving as Commissioner from 2011 through a change in administration earlier this year, Cassellius enacted comprehensive education reforms, including historic new funding for schools, enactment of all-day kindergarten, state-funded preschool for 25,000 children, and has overseen historically high graduation rates. She has also served on the board of directors for the Council for Chief State School Officers, and contributed to the development of, “10 Equity Commitments,” which education chiefs across the country worked to adopt to further equity goals and outcomes. Cassellius began her career in 1990 and has previously worked as a paraprofessional, teacher, administrator, and superintendent in Tennessee and Minnesota. She is married and the mother of three children.

•Marie Izquierdo, chief academic officer for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida, a position she has held since 2013. During her leadership, there has been an 18 percent increase in schools receiving average or high state accountability scores, narrowing of the achievement gap in several student populations, increased graduation rates, and an expansion of academically rigorous programming. Izquierdo has more than 25 years of experience in education. After becoming principal of a Miami elementary school in 2004, when she oversaw its turnaround efforts, Izquierdo then worked as a regional director for turnaround for the Florida Department of Education in 2009, when 79 percent of targeted schools saw improvement. She returned to Miami-Dade in 2010, serving as Deputy Chief of Staff and Assistant Superintendent of Academics before her being named to her current role. She is married with three children.

The co-chairs of the Superintendent Search Committee are Alexandra Oliver-Dávila, vice chairperson of the Boston School Committee and executive director of Sociedad Latina; and J. Keith Motley, former chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston.

“I’m proud of the Superintendent Search Committee for working tirelessly to find diverse, qualified candidates who deeply understand the issues facing an urban school system like BPS,” said Oliver-Dávila. “It’s critical that we choose a leader who is committed to equity and understands the broad range of needs of the students and families we serve.”

Said Motley, “All three of these candidates are exemplary and any of them could be a strong leader of the Boston Public Schools. Each candidate has a deep and multi-faceted experience in public education that make them strong contenders for the role of Superintendent.”

The School Committee will now move to a more public portion of the search process, with public interviews scheduled over the next two weeks, starting on Monday, April 22. There will be no forums north of the city except for an interview of one of the candidates at East Boston High School.

The schedule is as follows:

Panel Discussion With Community Partners (Televised and livestreamed on Boston City TV):

•Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, April 22-24

Time: 10:30 a.m. to noon

Location: Bolling Municipal Building, 2300 Washington Street, (School Committee Chambers), Roxbury

School Committee Interviews (Televised and livestreamed on Boston City TV)

•Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, April 22-24

Time: 1-3 p.m.

Location: Bolling Municipal Building, 2300 Washington Street, (School Committee Chambers), Roxbury.

Panel Discussion with BPS Students and Teachers

•Monday, April 22 (For Marie Izquierdo)

Time: 4-5:30 p.m.

Location: East Boston High School, 86 White St.

•Tues., April 23 (For Brenda Cassellius)

Time: 4-5:30 p.m.

Location: Mildred Avenue K-8 School, 5 Mildred Ave., Mattapan.

•Weds., April 24 (For Oscar Santos)

Time: 4-5:30 p.m.

Location: Mildred Avenue K-8 School, 5 Mildred Ave., Mattapan

Panel Discussion With BPS Parents, School Leaders (Televised and livestreamed on Boston City TV)

•Monday, April 22-Wednesday, April 24

Time: 6:30-8 p.m.

Location: Bolling Municipal Building, 2300 Washington Street, (School Committee Chambers), Roxbury.

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