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Iranetta Wright named Cincinnati Public Schools superintendent

Iranetta Wright has been selected as the new superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools. Since 2017, she's served as the Deputy Superintendent of Schools for Detroit Public Schools Community District.
Courtesy of Cincinnati Public Schools
Iranetta Wright has been selected as the new superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools. Since 2017, she's served as the Deputy Superintendent of Schools for Detroit Public Schools Community District.

Following a nationwide search for its next superintendent, Cincinnati Public Schools has selected Iranetta Wright to lead the district going forward. Board President Ben Lindy says Wright is expected to start by May 1.

"I thank the Board for their decision and belief in my ability to lead our District to the next level as we make Cincinnati Public Schools the public school choice for children and families of our city," Wright said via a release sent Monday evening. "I am also appreciative of the community support as we embark on this journey. I'm looking forward to leading this district. We're going to hit the ground running to learn, grow and develop together. Let's get to work."

Wright has been the deputy superintendent of schools for Detroit Public Schools Community District since 2017. The district has 53,000 students, 7,200 employees, and an operating budget of $785 million. Previously, she worked for over 25 years in Duval County Public Schools in Florida. She served as a teacher, assistant principal, middle and high school principal, regional superintendent, and the chief of schools for roughly 117,000 students and 13,000 employees.

“We are incredibly excited to begin this new chapter at Cincinnati Public Schools,” Lindy said via a release. “Choosing a new superintendent is one of the most important roles of a board of education. We are extremely grateful for the input of community, parents, students and staff, as well as the hard work of our executive search firm, Alma Advisory Group. We believe we have chosen the best candidate, one who is committed to transformative, positive change for our students, community and staff.”

During Monday's meeting, Lindy said Wright has a career's worth of experience advancing student outcomes in the classroom.

"The profile for this position came from our community engagement, and the evidence she demonstrated over the course of the process showed that she has the things our community is looking for in the next leader for Cincinnati Public Schools," Lindy said.

Board member Mike Moroski says the issues affecting the district played a role in the board's selection.

"Whether it's logistical issues, technical issues, learning loss issues, COVID related issues, I think they weighed heavily in all of the panels and influenced questions," Moroski said. "As you even try to look at things outside COVID and outside the issues that have sort of plagued us the past couple of years, I'd say they were right there at the center."

Prior to Monday's announcement, Tianay Amat has been serving as CPS's interim superintendent since June 2021, after former superintendent Laura Mitchell resigned to become president and CEO of Beech Acres Parenting Center. She will transition back to a deputy superintendent role within the district. She expressed her appreciation for CPS students, families, and staff in a release.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to lead our incredible district for the last eight months," Amat said. "I welcome Ms. Wright to CPS and look forward to ensuring a smooth transition."

Looking forward, Wright will be working with a school board with three new members, as well as a new president. The district will also be dealing with the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

During the 2021-22 school year, CPS approved a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees, becoming the first district in Ohio to do so. In Jan. 2022, the district went remote due to staffing shortages caused by the virus. At the time, Greater Cincinnati was reporting a positivity rate of 32.7%. Cincinnati's was at 39.1%. Now, the city and the region's rates are at 5%. Also during the school year, more than 4,200 students and 1,400 staff members contracted COVID-19.

Wright will also have to work to find new transportation partners after Metro's contract with CPS runs out Jun. 30. In the official notice given on Nov. 17, 2021, SORTA COO John Ravasio said federal law prohibits SORTA from competing with private charter operators, which led to SORTA not submitting a bid to provide services to CPS. One of the public transportation options being considered for the next fiscal year is to buy Metro passes for students. That's estimated to be $6 million more compared to the current agreement with Metro.

More than 200 parents, students, teachers, and community leaders participated in 40 meetings during the superintendent search process. Roughly 3,600 people participated in a survey conducted by Alma Advisory Group. The group was selected to assist in creating a transparent search process guided with input from the community. The results indicate a shared desire for the next superintendent to be an effective communicator who understands the needs of the district.

Below is the resolution approved by the Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education on Monday:

You can view her resume below:

This story has been updated.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.