Jackson Public Schools administrative building Credit: Jackson Public Schools

The Jackson Public School District has narrowed the field of candidates for its next leader, and members of the public can meet them this week.

On Monday, the district announced Dana Bedden, Errick Greene, and Kenneth Simington would interview for the position Tuesday through Thursday in Jackson.

Bedden is chief executive officer of Bedden and Associates, an education consulting group based in Richmond, Va. He previously served as superintendent in Richmond and Irving, Texas.

Greene is the chief of schools for Tulsa Public Schools in Oklahoma, and previously served as special assistant to emergency manager in Detroit Public Schools. Greene was also a 10-year principal and later an instructional superintendent in the District of Columbia Public Schools, according to the release.

Kenneth Simington, Deputy Superintendent of the Winston-Salem Forsyth County School District Credit: Jackson Public Schools

Simington is the deputy superintendent with the Winston-Salem Forsyth County School District in North Carolina, where has also worked as a principal and other administrative roles, according to the release.

Members of the public can meet each candidate during an “informal meet and greet” at the board room at 621 State Street this week:

  • • Tuesday, June 5: 5 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 6: 5:45 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 7: 5:45 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Search firm McPherson Jacobson has led the search. The board is paying the company $24,900 to shepherd them through the search process, and their contract states McPherson Jacobson will “guarantee” the new superintendent will stay with the district at least two years.

Applications were due May 14. Sherwin Johnson, JPS spokesperson, said 59 people started an application, and the board ultimately received 40 complete applications.

Last week the Board of Trustees met to narrow the pool of candidates into finalists. The meeting was originally advertised as chance to “meet with chairs of stakeholder groups, review candidates, select finalists, and schedule interviews,” but the board almost immediately went into executive session — which members of the public, including the media, could not attend.

At a separate Better Together Commission meeting Thursday, board member Ed Sivak updated the room on the superintendent search and told them they received applications from across the country and the school board was reaching out to finalists for interviews this week.

Board chair Jeanne Hairston said each candidate will tour schools and district property, meet with different groups before a formal interview with the school board.

Current interim superintendent Freddrick Murray has shepherded the district through a period of change — when former superintendent Cedrick Gray resigned in November 2016, JPS faced a downgrade in accreditation and just earned a second consecutive F rating.

Murray took his place, and in 2017 the district narrowly avoided state takeover. Instead, the City of Jackson, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Gov. Phil Bryant’s office announced a partnership to fix the district’s systemic issues highlighted in an August 2017 audit by the Mississippi Department of Education.

The board has said previously they intend to have a new superintendent in place by July 1.

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Kayleigh Skinner joined the Mississippi Today team in January 2017 as an education and legislative reporter and advanced to a senior staff member in her four years with the company. Before joining Mississippi Today, Kayleigh worked at The Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat Tennessee, and The Commercial Appeal. She has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC Newsday Radio to discuss her reporting.