Q & A with Duval County School Board Member, District 7, Lori Hershey

Q: Yesterday (April 23), the Duval County School Board selected the semifinalists for the next superintendent. What can you tell us about this process?

A: According to our search firm, Hazard Young Attea & Associates, there were more than 70 candidates who expressed interest in this position. Once they were all filtered through the process, the School Board received the applications and considered 26 candidates. From there, we selected six semifinalists. Of this top six, I’m very confident that with their records and leadership, we will end up with a great superintendent for DCPS.

Q: What can you tell us about the candidates?

A: This is a good group. If people take the time to investigate, I believe they will be satisfied with their records and what they’ve accomplished in their current positions. Each candidate has done something significant and been instrumental in moving their current school district forward.

Q: Can you share any specifics about each candidate?

A: One of the characteristics that rose to the top during our community meetings was that everyone wanted someone with significant leadership experience and connection to education. All of these candidates have these. Two of the candidates, Dr. Diana Green (who began her teaching career in Jacksonville) and Frederick Heid (former chief academic officer at DCPS) have ties to Jacksonville. Harrison Peters is chief of schools for Hillsborough County Schools in Florida and Green is superintendent of Manatee County Schools in Florida. Michael Dunsmore is a superintendent of schools in North Carolina, Sito Narcisse is chief of schools in the Nashville area and Erick Pruitt is an area superintendent of a large school district in Houston.

Q: What is the next step?

A: On May 11, the board will hold the initial interviews with the six semifinalists from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Cline Auditorium (open to the public) before meeting on May 14 to identify the finalists. Interviews with the finalists will be May 16, 17 and 18 and then on May 22 the board will meet to identify the preferred candidate. The plan is for this person to begin work in July. Part of this process will include the 25-member focus group, which includes three representatives (one of whom is a DCPS employee) from each district. This focus group will also interview the semifinalist candidates on May 12 at the Schultz Center from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (open to the public) and then make a recommendation to the board.

Q: Do you have anything else to share about this process?

A: It is important to note that the board has been methodically working on this process since last fall; a lot of work has already been done in advance of this busy month of May.

Several of the candidates for superintendent were identified by a majority of the board. We were all on the same page and I’m excited that we’re bringing some strong talent to Jacksonville.

Also, I’d like to say that Dr. Willis has done a phenomenal job as superintendent. I believe Duval County Public Schools are better for her leadership.

Q: How can our readers contact you?

A: They can email me at HersheyL@duvalschools.org or call me at (904) 316-3609.