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A Letter from the Denver Board of Education Regarding the Finalists for Superintendent

The Denver Board has announced its finalists for Denver Public Schools superintendent. We have reached an important milestone in a six-month process to find a visionary leader who will move our district through and beyond COVID, make student and community-centered decisions, move equity from an abstract idea to action, and ensure that all who serve our students  are supported to provide the best public education. This is a  moment for optimism and excitement about Denver’s future. 

We will make our decision about the new superintendent in the next six to eight weeks. We invite Denver residents to join us in not only welcoming the new superintendent but  in partnering with us to ensure our public education system prepares our students to take advantage of the opportunities the future will bring. Let’s raise and hear new ideas, support our new leader, and teach them what we want to see for our students and families. We challenge everyone in our city to come together around what we collectively value—strong public education and our children—to make Denver Public Schools a world-class public education system. No matter what role you play in our district and city, we need you!  We need your perspective and your voice. We need your help to ensure we emerge from the pandemic as a stronger educational system that does a better job of meeting the needs of all students as they reach for their dreams. 

Our finalists represent the next big names in education. They are poised to make a mark on the field whether they lead here in Denver or elsewhere—these will be the people leading students and teachers in this nation toward the future. Through our search we were specifically seeking a fresh perspective. We weren’t looking for people who would just bring another district’s plan to our district, or who would come to our district with a predetermined playbook. Each of the candidates has demonstrated that they value collaboration and partnership. Each is aligned with what our community values, which in short, is a leader who values them. 

However, we know that none of these finalists will check every box for all of you who graciously met with us, emailed us, spoke at public comment, and filled out surveys during the search process. No one does this job alone. We are confident our new superintendent will surround him or herself with people who compliment their skills. As a Board, we will do everything possible to help Denver Public School’s next superintendent succeed—and we hope you will too. 

Carrie A. Olson, PhD, President

Jennifer Bacon, Vice President

Angela Cobián, Treasurer

Tay Anderson, Secretary

Scott Baldermann

Rev. Bradley Laurvick

Barbara O’Brien, PhD

Finalist Stage Overview

April 30, 2021

We are excited to announce that the last stage of the superintendent search process is about to begin! Looking ahead to the next few weeks, there will be several opportunities for you to get to know the final candidates, ask questions and share your feedback. We’re sharing this overview to help you plan how you’d like to participate.

Crowd-sourcing interview questions and topics

Beginning on Friday, April 30, you can submit your ideas for the types of questions that panelists will ask the final candidates. Find the form on our website beginning at 4 p.m.

Learn about the final candidates

We’ll announce the finalists on Friday, May 7, and share their profiles on our website.

Watch finalists interview with panels representing students and the community

Each finalist will interview with seven different stakeholder groups: students, teachers and school staff, school leaders, central staff, direct reports, Board of Education, and DPS parents, guardians, families, and community. We will be live streaming both the student and community interviews on Thursday, May 13. The student-led interviews will begin at 4 p.m., followed by the community interviews at 6 p.m. Visit our website to watch the interviews live via Vimeo.

Share your feedback about the final candidates

You can complete a feedback form on each of the candidates during or after the interviews on May 13. All feedback must be submitted by May 17 at 5 p.m. If you would like to share your thoughts publicly at the board’s public comment session on May 20, please sign up to speak by 5 p.m. on May 19.

New superintendent to be announced 

We anticipate that the board will vote to appoint our next superintendent at a meeting in early June. Please stay tuned for more information over the weeks ahead, and thank you for your continued participation!

April 23 Update

April 23, 2021

In prior updates, we shared key themes around the qualities the community is seeking in Denver Public Schools’ new leader and the priority issues they want them to address. Here are the TOP FIVE things you should know about the search this week.

  1. We’re closer to identifying DPS’s new leader and we believe that leader will be a person of color. 67 percent of the semi-finalists are Latinx and 33 percent are Black. All of the semi-finalists have worked in top leadership posts in education and in school systems with similar levels of complexity and diversity to DPS. They have all demonstrated a strong racial-equity lens, community- centered leadership, strong team leadership, and the ability to build relationships and capacity.
  2. Your feedback informed the candidate screening process. We’ve engaged in personal conversations with nearly 700 stakeholders and reviewed the over 7,000 survey responses we received. See the full list of engaged stakeholder groups here.
  3. Individual Board members have spent between 30-100+ hours supporting the search process. They have engaged in daily progress check-ins, interview/candidate debriefs, executive session conversations, anti-bias training, focus group/community gatherings, and Facebook Live events.
  4. Finalist candidates will be announced by the week of May 10. We are currently designing a finalist interview process that enables stakeholders to get to know the finalists.
  5. Submit your questions. Next week, we will invite you to submit a question for consideration in the public interview process. Stay tuned!

April 16 Update

April 16, 2021

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share your thoughts about the Superintendent search over the last six weeks! The Alma Advisory Group and the DPS board are excited to share everything they’ve been learning and how it’s informing the process.

Here are the TOP FIVE things you should know about the search so far.

  1. We’ve engaged in personal conversations with over 500 people across 50 meetings to learn what they want the board to prioritize in the next superintendent. DPS board members and the Alma Advisory Group have held the meetings representing all facets of our community. As we conclude community meetings, we are continuing to reach out directly to DPS families through phone calls and one-on-one conversations to gather their input.
  2. The community survey is still open. We’ve had over 3,000 participants, but there’s still time for more! We reopened it to ensure more voices, including student voices, are heard.
  3. Our community is seeking four main qualities in a new leader. 
    • A unifying leader
    • A leader focused on racial equity and equity across all schools.
    • A leader focused on authentic community partnerships and responsiveness.
    • A leader with the capacity to create a strong academic program, especially in a post-pandemic world.
  4. We’re closer to identifying DPS’s new leader. Using your feedback to inform the candidate screening process, the Alma Advisory Group cast a wide net and searched near and far for our next superintendent. Over the last several months, Alma posted at over 46 sites, including national and local job boards, universities, affinity groups and professional associations. Alma and the DPS board have narrowed a field of 85 high potential recruits and applicants down to 14 with a diversity of backgrounds and experiences – 43% Black, 36% Latinx (all bilingual), 21% White, 71% Male and 29% Female. The candidates span nine states, 29% from within Colorado and others with strong ties to Denver and Colorado. Another round of rigorous interviews is now underway.
  5. The finalists will be selected and announced in mid-to-late May. The Alma Advisory Group is currently designing a public interview of the finalists to enable parents, community members, students, principals, teachers, and staff to learn more about them. Please stay tuned and we will be sure to share more information.

April 9 Update

Stakeholder engagement is in progress. Alma Advisory Group has hosted 37 community meetings over six week and received over thousands of survey responses from students, DPS team members, and members of the community so far. There is still time to provide feedback – we’ve re-opened our community survey and are accepting your responses through April 19!

Clear themes are emerging. The community is aligned on four key priorities: (1) Equitable distribution of resources across schools to meet students’ needs; (2) Respect for the cultural and racial diversity of the student body and recruiting and hiring a diverse staff; (3) Authentic community partnerships and responsiveness to community needs; and (4) Recovering, post-COVID.

Candidates are applying. Alma Advisory Group sourced and identified 53 high potential leaders. It received over 30 applications and is moving about 20 candidates into its internal first-round interview process.

You’ll meet the finalists in May! We’re still on track to introduce the finalists for superintendent to the community in May 2021.

March 16 Update

March 16, 2021

We have been hard at work as the superintendent search gets off the ground. Here are a few of the latest updates:

  • The superintendent posting has gone live and is viewable here. Please help us spread the word about the opening! #LeadDPS
  • Our community engagement work has launched and we have begun meeting with and are scheduled to meet with more community groups, parents, students, staff and leadership. Please see the dates for our regional community gatherings here and help us get as many people there as possible. During our meetings we will share more about the search and then provide the opportunity for small groups to meet and share their ideas, hopes and feedback for our next superintendent.
  • Please fill out our community survey! Our survey is live and it has been translated into nine languages. Please share your thoughts on our next superintendent, and share the community survey link with your friends and family to help us get as many voices heard as possible. Staff and students – please use the link that was emailed directly to your DPS account!
  • Community input will support the search in three important ways: 
    • Strengthen the role description that will be used to recruit and screen candidates
    • Inform the interview questions that we will use when meeting candidates
    • Engagement at the finalist stage to help inform the final selection decision by the board
  • We want your ideas! Please fill out the Community Comment form anytime to share your thoughts throughout the search process.

Take Our Community Survey

Friday, Mar. 12, 2021

This survey includes some of the most important questions DPS has asked our students, families, staff, and community this year. Who we choose for our next superintendent has a big impact on every student, every educator, and every school. If you are interested in what your student’s learning experience is like in school, how the district prioritizes its budget, and what the culture of the district will be going forward, you definitely want to take this survey!

The survey is also focused on planning for what families need next school year — like whether you’ll continue to need a fully remote school option, and what supports and opportunities are most important for your student.

Parents, guardians and community members can access the survey in ten languages.

Take the Survey >> (survey is now closed – thanks to all who participated!)

The Search Has Begun

Friday, Feb. 19, 2021

With the announcement of our search firm, Alma Advisory Group, our search for Denver Public Schools’ next Superintendent has officially launched!

In the weeks ahead we will post our updates here, so please keep checking back to hear the latest.

Our team is working hard to develop plans for a fully transparent and accessible process. In early March week we will launch a community survey, and we need your help getting as many voices participating as possible! In the coming weeks we will also begin going out into communities to hear your thoughts and ideas about what the district needs in its next Superintendent.

We are so interested in what you have to say, and this begins with sharing your ideas about how best to keep everyone informed and reach people who might not easily access email and virtual meeting opportunities. 

What are your ideas for keeping everyone up to speed on the search? Do you have any creative ideas to help us connect with as much of the Denver community as possible? 

Please fill out our comment form (now closed) and let us know what you think.

Searching for a New District Leader

On Nov. 13, 2020, Superintendent Susana Cordova announced she was stepping down after two years as our district’s first Latina superintendent, and more than 30 years as an educator and leader in DPS. 

This departure means that DPS is now engaged in the search for a new district leader who understands the past, present and future of DPS and who will drive the district forward in our pursuit of Equity as our core identity.

The Denver Board of Education selected Dwight Jones as interim superintendent in December, and will be sharing more information about the timeline for the new superintendent search soon. Engagement with our staff, families, students, and community will be the top priority throughout this process.

Read the Board's Overview Statement »