Now that Interim Superintendent Amber Dixon has named a chief academic officer, she's about ready to announce her next appointment to fill a vacancy in central office: executive director for human resources.
That department, by pretty much every account I've ever heard -- from BPS job applicants, employees, retirees from that department, people outside the district -- has been in need of some serious help for years.
Valerie DeBerry stepped down as executive director of h.r. in the spring. For the past several months, Eileen Fleming, the deputy director of that department, has been acting in the No. 1 role there.
While James Williams was still superintendent, the vacancy was advertised as associate superintendent for human resources, with the requirements indicating the right candidate needed to have a background in curriculum. The word on the street was that the posting had been tailor-made with a specific person in mind.
But Williams never ended up filling the job before he left.
Once Dixon took over the district, she posted the position as an executive director opening, which is what it has traditionally been.
The official announcement has not yet been made, but in response to my inquiries -- after I heard scuttlebutt that the job would be going to Brown -- Dixon confirmed that he would be moving to central office.
Brown has a master's in business administration and certification in human resources, she said. He also has experience as a principal at the elementary (School 53) and secondary (Performing Arts since 2008) level, assistant principal (South Park High School), and math teacher.
"Darren Brown brings both the leadership and organizational skills I was looking for to the position," Dixon said. "His school experience is critical to creating a human resource department that is responsive to the needs of our schools."
Discussions regarding Brown's replacement, she said, are underway.
Seeing as Dixon's every move is under scrutiny -- as plenty of people are wondering whether she has what it takes to be superintendent for the long haul -- I think it's safe to say that her decision on who to appoint as principal at Performing Arts will be viewed as every bit as telling as her decisions on appointments at City Hall.
If you want to know just how important the principal is at a school, ask the parents at any school with a principal change this year how they feel about it. I guarantee you'll get some strong opinions. A good principal can make all the difference in the world; a bad one can crush even the strongest program.
Let's see what Dixon's idea of a good principal is.
- Mary Pasciak