IPS and Leadership and Public schools and K-12 and Education & Workforce Development and Education reform

IPS chief White a finalist for top job at Alabama system

March 13, 2012

Eugene White, superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools, has been named a finalist to lead the Mobile County Public Schools system in Alabama, and he is interviewing for another superintendent’s post in South Carolina.

White was reported as one of three finalists in Mobile by the Press-Register of Mobile, Ala., on Tuesday morning. All three will be invited to interviews on March 27 and 28, with the school board expected to choose a winner by March 30.

In Greenville, S.C., the county school board is interviewing White and other candidates in order to narrow the field to three finalists by Thursday, according to the Greenville News. The school board hopes to name a new superintendent by March 24.

White, 64, has been superintendent of IPS since 2005 and before that was superintendent of the Washington Township schools in Indianapolis for 11 years.

White is a native of Alabama, where he starred in high school and college basketball.

The three finalists in Mobile were culled from a total of 72 applications, according to the Press-Register. The two other finalists are Peggy Connell, the chief academic officer of the 32,000-student Muscogee County schools in Columbus, Ga., and Dale Robbins, associate superintendent for teaching and learning of the 167,000-student Gwinett County schools near Atlanta.

One alternate finalist, according to the Press-Register, is Karyle Green, superintendent of the 9,500-student East Allen County Schools near Fort Wayne.

The Mobile schools serve 61,000 students, nearly twice as many as IPS. In South Carolina, the Greenville County Schools includes about 70,000 students.

Under White’s tenure, IPS has increased its graduation rate by nearly 20 percentage points, to 65 percent last year. He has also spurred IPS to launch a host of innovative magnet schools that can draw students from throughout the district.

However, the State Board of Education last summer judged four of its schools to be persistently failing, and decided to remove them from IPS control in favor of private school management companies.

White has worked both with and against some of the education reform efforts that have become prominent in Indianapolis.

Under White, IPS was an early adopter of such alternative teacher training programs as Teach for America and the New Teacher Project to Indianapolis, which were brought to Indianapolis by the education reform group The Mind Trust.

But, last year, White resigned from The Mind Trust’s board when the group started to advocate for giving Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard authority to appoint IPS school board members.

And at the end of the year, White accused The Mind Trust and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard of trying to “flood” IPS with charter schools. He also dismissed The Mind Trust’s efforts to put Ballard in charge of the IPS school board and to gut what it called the “bloated bureaucracy” of the district’s central office.

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