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CPS names interim leaders after superintendent's resignation

Shauna Murphy and Alesia Smith
Zack Carreon
Shauna Murphy and Alesia Smith

Less than a week after former Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Iranetta Wright agreed to resign, the district has named its new interim leaders.

Monday evening, the CPS Board of Education announced two internal employees, Shauna Murphy and Alesia Smith, will be charged with leading the school system.

Murphy is Chief of Student, Family, and Community Engagement and will serve as Interim Superintendent; Smith is Chief of Schools and will serve as Deputy Interim Superintendent.

RELATED: CPS Superintendent Iranetta Wright resigns

The two Cincinnati natives have held various positions within CPS and together have decades of experience in the school system.

"We've done the work — we've been a part of CPS, we are CPS," Smith told reporters following the announcement. "We know the principals, we know teachers, we know families. We live in the community. We've been around a long time."

Murphy and Smith are taking over the district at a challenging time. The school board and district administrators are working to close a multi-million dollar budget gap brought on by the loss of federal pandemic relief funding later this year. Pressure from the district's employee unions related to the budget and workplace culture forced former superintendent Wright's resignation before a final budget could be agreed upon.

Wright's last official day at CPS was Monday.

Despite the recent turbulence, Murphy says she and Smith are ready to take on the challenge and move the district forward.

"A friend of mine talked to me this weekend about a car and the parts of a car, and the rearview mirror of a car, and how important that review mirror is — it's important to know what is behind you and it's important to recognize it and respect it," Murphy said. "We've got a wonderful windshield in front of us; we're looking forward. We're focusing forward and we want to move the district ahead."

RELATED: Cincinnati Public School unions explain votes of no confidence in superintendent

Not all members of the school board were in favor of the new appointments. Board member Ben Lindy, who remains a vocal supporter of Wright, abstained from the vote to appoint Murphy and Smith. Fellow board member Kendra Mapp voted "no" on the resolution.

"This week the board has tried to select an interim in six days," Lindy said. "We interviewed candidates this evening for a grand total of 10 minutes each with no request for data, work product, or references."

All other remaining board members in attendance voted to approve their appointments.

Murphy and Smith will serve as interim leaders until a new permanent superintendent is named. Both say they will likely apply for the permanent role.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.