District names three finalists for superintendent

Indianapolis Public Schools has narrowed its search for a superintendent to three out-of-state candidates who have never served as the top leader at a school district before.

The three finalists will come to Indianapolis for interviews with the IPS school board Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The district, which has about 28,000 students, has been looking for a new leader since Eugene White announced he was stepping down in January.

The first candidate to visit will be Thomas Darden, the executive director of New York Schools for ASPIRA Inc., a program that runs leadership development programs aimed at Latino youth. Darden was until last summer a deputy superintendent of the Philadelphia public schools system, where he oversaw charter schools.

On Thursday, the IPS board will interview Lewis Ferebee, chief of staff for Durham Public Schools in North Carolina. Ferebee was previously a regional superintendent and chief instructional improvement officer for the Guilford County school system in North Carolina.

Millard House, chief operating officer of the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools in North Carolina, will interview Friday. House was a deputy superintendent in the Tulsa, Okla., public school system and before that was the principal of a KIPP charter school in Tulsa.

IPS had long been the state's largest public school district, but was passed by Fort Wayne Community Schools last year. Enrollment at IPS, which is nearly 80-percent minority, has fallen by more than 7,000 students since 2007-08.

The board chose the three finalists, all African-American, after a round of interviews with a pool of eight candidates.

“They are all incredibly bright with a passion for educating children,” said Diane Arnold, president of the IPS board, in a prepared statement.

This week, each candidate will meet with board members behind closed doors, tour the IPS district and the city and have dinner with board members.

All three candidates also will greet members of the public on Thursday night at the IPS headquarters at 120 E. Walnut St. The meeting runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The IPS board will meet on Saturday morning and could announce their preferred candidate that day.

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