The superintendent of the Cleveland School District has stepped down, according to a press release issued Friday by the district. 

Superintendent Otha Belcher Credit: Cleveland School District

Superintendent Otha Belcher stepped down on Sept. 30 and “will assume another role within the District,” according to the statement.

“While the District appreciates Dr. Belcher’s service, all parties agree that a change in leadership will be the most effective method of continuing to move the district in a positive direction for the future.” 

Parents have been voicing their frustrations with the district for a while, questioning spending decisions and voicing frustration with infrastructure woes. Belcher told Mississippi Today in August he felt many of the complaints regarding his leadership were racially motivated. 

Belcher started in Cleveland in June 2019, leading the district for three years during the pandemic before stepping down on Friday. Prior to this position, he was an assistant superintendent in the Jackson Public School District and worked in the Vicksburg-Warren and Hinds County school districts. 

“I don’t know of anyone that’s found it to be a negative,” said Jason Shaw, a local parent, in reference to Belcher’s reassignment “I think everyone agreed that it was time for him to go. Not that he was a bad person, I don’t know of anybody that said anything bad about him as an individual, he just wasn’t doing the job.” 

Lisa Bramuchi, a former assistant superintendent of the district, has been named interim superintendent and Reggie Barnes, a former superintendent, has been brought on as a consultant to help with the superintendent search. 

Shaw emphasized that new leadership will need strong communication to establish trust with the community, as well as focusing on making repairs and improvements to the school buildings. 

Belcher could not be reached for comment, nor could board members Paulette Howze and Debbie Fioranelli.

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Julia, a Louisiana native, covers K-12 education. She previously served as an investigative intern with Mississippi Today helping cover the welfare scandal. She is a 2021 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she studied journalism and public policy and was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She has also been published in The New York Times and the Clarion-Ledger.