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Updates about the search for DPS’ next superintendent

August 9, 2018

Board Issues Narrative for Superintendent Search, Retains HR Firm

The Board of Education tonight issued a narrative statement about the state of the district in its search for a new superintendent. The document is a statement for potential candidates, and outlines who we are as a district, progress we’ve made, and the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

The document describes who we are as a district: a diverse family of students, a diverse family of schools, the district’s budget philosophy, the Denver Plan 2020 and the Board of Education.

It also describes the progress made by the district since the inception of the Denver Plan in 2005-06, including enrollment growth, academic growth, narrowing of proficiency gaps, improved early childhood education, decreased drop-out rates and increased graduation rates, including doubling the number of African-American and Latino graduates.

Finally, the narrative outlines key opportunities and challenges that must be addressed by the district, superintendent and board in order to achieve our vision and goals as outlined in The Denver Plan 2020. It includes closing the opportunity gap (support for teachers and leaders, addressing institutional racism, and support for English language learners and special education students); investing early; preparing students for college and career; community engagement; checking progress and holding ourselves accountable (School Performance Framework, School Performance Compact and transparency); supporting our diverse family of schools; stewardship during a time of declining population of school-aged children; and recruiting and retaining a high-quality and diverse workforce.

“It’s important that we as a board and district are very honest and intentional about the tension points that are challenges and opportunities going forward,” said Board Member Angela Cobian, who led the board in co-drafting the narrative. “A lot of the feedback we’ve been getting from community members is embedded in this narrative. It’s a good example of how we are not just passively receiving feedback, but actively incorporating it into the work we are doing, as stewards of the people we serve.”

You can read the full narrative here.

Firm Retained to Facilitate Human Resources Function of Search
The board also selected a third-party firm to help facilitate the human resources function of the search for the next superintendent of Denver Public Schools. HYA (Hazard, Young, Attea Associates) has strong connections with The School Superintendents Association (AASA), the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE), and the Association for Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS).

Board Members Lisa Flores and Jen Bacon led efforts to interview and rank several firms considered. The firm was vetted for its commitment to inclusivity, equity and willingness to incorporate community insights into its work, as well as its cost, track record for effectiveness and the capacity to work within the three month time period the Board has established for the search process.

The board will develop the candidate competencies and characteristics and lead outreach, publicity and recruitment focus areas. It will use the firm to receive and screen applications, develop protocols, lead due diligence and background checks and facilitate Board deliberation and determination of semifinalists.

A diverse pool of candidates is sought, from life-long educators to non-traditional candidates with strong leadership and administrative experience. In leaning on the firm to manage the application process, the Board is taking steps to maintain its neutrality for the benefit of the candidates and the community.

HYA President Max McGee addressed the board and community at tonight’s meeting, stating: “While we have placed superintendents in Houston, L.A. and Alexandria, what’s most important is that we place your students first. We are committed to finding the best leader to make lasting difference for your students.”

Community Engagement Plan Outlined
The board reiterated its commitment to a robust community engagement in the superintendent search process. Board Member Jennifer Bacon led the board’s efforts to plan the community engagement with representatives from the district’s offices of Public Affairs and Family and Community Engagement (FACE).

“We know the community is anxious to know meeting dates, and we are working to get those on the calendar,” Bacon said. “But we also want to ensure that before we get to the tactical details, we have really defined what we mean when we say community engagement.”

“We want to be clear with the community about what they can expect by setting out what we mean by engagement, detailing the public participation spectrum. We will be clear about whether we are engaging to inform, consult, involve or collaborate with our community,” she said.

The board created a set of core values and a values statement for community engagement: “Our success is bound up in each other.” Bacon also walked through a list of the board’s vision and commitments for community engagement, describing what it will look like, sound like, feel like. Details include that the engagement will be broad across the city and stakeholder groups; multi-modal (in person, digital, etc.); in neighborhoods versus downtown; listening openly about the community’s hopes, dreams and concerns; in the native languages of our community; and that the board will affirm what it’s heard.

Desired engagement outcomes are outlined in three phases of engagement.

    • Phase 1, now through mid-September, will focus on what the community would like to see in the new superintendent, and will inform the questions for and screening of the applicants.
    • Phase 2, in mid-September through October, will help determine semi/finalist(s) and inform the creation of interview materials and rubrics
    • Phase 3, from the mid-October selection of finalist(s) through November will focus on introducing the new candidate and transitioning them into the role.

You can read the detailed community engagement presentation here.

Updates and Information
Comments or questions regarding the search can be emailed to supersearch@dpsk12.org.

July 30, 2018

Board Outlines Superintendent Search Process

The Board of Education tonight met in a special meeting to further discuss the process to hire a new superintendent of Denver Public Schools as Tom Boasberg steps down after a decade in the role.

The board acknowledged that this is the most important decision it will undertake, and stressed the importance of community voice in the selection process. To that end, the board committed itself to communicating clear expectations about the process, including publicly establishing the goals of the search process as required by state law and outlined in this document from the Colorado Association of School Boards.

Community Engagement

The board underscored the importance of the community engagement process it will establish for the search process. “How can we meaningfully engage the community in a way you know we’re listening?” asked Board Member Carrie Olson. “[Board Member] Angela [Cobian] and I kept using classroom analogies: every voice is important for the school to move forward — all students in the classroom, the paraprofessionals the custodians — everybody has a voice.”

Board members said they will engage closely with the community during the selection process and seek out community input on the experiences, qualities and qualifications the next superintendent should have.

Board Member Jennifer Bacon said, “We commit to pushing ourselves to think outside the box for how we engage.” Board Member Happy Haynes echoed the sentiment, adding that the board wants to be “intentional in capturing voices that might otherwise be missed.”

Nationwide Search

The board agreed to conduct a nationwide search, open to both internal and external candidates. Haynes said, “While there are local candidates, it serves our district, students and process well to cast the net as wide as possible, even if the person is right here under our roof.” Cobian added, “I’m excited to see what talent we’re able to attract from across the country.”

Timeline

The board is being intentional in setting a time limit on its search. It intends to name the finalist(s) by Oct. 15, and at least 14 days prior to making the official appointment of the new superintendent as required by state law. In order to meet this timeline, the deadline for submitting an application is Sept. 14, 2018.

Board President Anne Rowe said, “Having a time frame that is defined will give us the highest degree of success to find a wonderful leader to take this district forward.”

Third-party Consultant

Board Member Lisa Flores said it was important for the board to consider what it wants its own role to be in the search process: “It helped us to develop a set of competencies and characteristics we are looking for, and thinking about what we want to do as a board, what we want the DPS staff to do, and what we want to hand off. Do we want to hire a search firm or a consulting service? Would that be technical support or a lead role? We ultimately decided that we all want strong ownership of recruiting, selecting and naming our next superintendent.”

Bacon said that the board is hoping to have a third party to help facilitate the human resources function and support with deliberation. As a result, the board has decided to engage a third party consultant with expertise in executive searches to support in the process.

The third party will be expected to possibly facilitate or, at minimum, be involved in the community engagement to inform the search process.

Updates and Information

The board passed a resolution outlining its priorities for the search, which is available English, Arabic, Spanish and Vietnamese. All information regarding application for the position and details regarding the search will be publicly available in multiple languages on this website, supersearch.dpsk12.org.

July 19, 2018

Dear DPS Community,

As you heard recently, Superintendent Tom Boasberg announced he is stepping down as head of DPS after nearly a decade as superintendent.

The Board of Education will discuss the process we will use to select our next superintendent at a special public meeting, to take place at the Emily Griffith Campus at 4:30 p.m. July 30.

Choosing a superintendent is the most important responsibility that we as board members have. The search, interview and selection process can be a challenging and complex endeavor. Our families expect for us to be thorough in this work, and we will be.

The selection process will include robust community engagement, including with members of Team DPS. The school district has created this landing page, supersearch.dpsk12.org, to share updates about the selection process and answer questions as they arise. We want to hear from you and keep all of Team DPS updated and involved in this process. Visit the site for more information, and share questions, concerns and recommendations by emailing supersearch@dpsk12.org.

Sincerely,

Anne Rowe
President, Denver Public Schools Board of Education