Leslie Brown chosen as next superintendent of EBR schools after marathon board meeting
BATON ROUGE - Leslie Brown has been selected to fill the role of East Baton Rouge Parish superintendent of schools after a six-hour-long school board meeting Thursday night.
Thank you to the Board and all the students, teachers, parents, and community organizations who were part of this search process. I am truly honored to be the next leader of @EBRSchools. This is a homecoming for me, and I cannot wait to see you soon. #WomenLeadingEd— Leslie Brown (@LeslieBrownEDU) June 19, 2020
School board members chose the 62-year-old chief portfolio services officer of Broward County, Florida, which is the seventh largest school district in the U.S.
The other candidate was 46-year-old Nakia Towns, who serves as chief of staff for Hamilton County schools in Tennessee.
Brown says she will use her experience to take on the role of “collaborator in chief,” and do more than simply tour area schools. She promises to make listening and responding to community needs a primary concern.
Brown is hopeful to visit churches, community centers and housing associations to speak to locals and let them tell her what changes they'd like to see in Baton Rouge's public school system.
“That’s how this works, by listening, and going back and listening again,” Brown told audiences during town hall and school board meetings in Baton Rouge.
In contrast, Towns said she understands the importance of listening but is quick to couple listening with taking action to implement necessary changes.
Towns said, “I don’t sit and analyze; I move us forward based on the information that we have.”
Both Towns and Brown have used the past week to speak directly to the public, once on Wednesday night during a town hall and again the following night during separate interviews with the board.
With EBR Schools' current superintendent, Warren Drake, scheduled to retire June 30 and the first school year following the statewide reopening from the COVID-19 closure beginning on August 6, the candidate selected by the school board will be expected to take swift action once in office.
After nearly a decade as chief portfolio services officer for Florida's Broward County, Brown oversees an array of magnet, charter schools and special programs.
Her education experience amounts to a total of 41 years, 12 of which were spent as a classroom teacher, and she served as served as principal of a charter school in Hollywood, Florida from 2004 to 2007.
Brown earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.
She moved several times growing up before landing in Fort Lauderdale. Brown’s parents, however, stayed in Baton Rouge as did a younger sister, who went to LSU and married a local. Brown’s parents both died within the past year.
Brown said she’s passed on other job opportunities outside of Florida, but when she saw the opening in Baton Rouge she knew it was right.
“I know where my home is, I know where my history is, and I know there is some significant work that I would like to do here,” she has said.
When discussing what she would focus on to get schools back on track after COVID-19, Brown noted the speed with which Broward County schools shifted to digital instruction. She said East Baton Rouge can use this crisis as an opportunity.
”This can be the most innovative time in education if we get this right,” Brown said.
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