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Movers & Shakers

Superintendent starts school on time despite local shooting of unarmed teen

Los Angeles USD Superintendent John Deasy to focus on boosting graduation rates
Superintendent Grayling Tobias of the Hazelwood School District in St. Louis County, Mo.
Superintendent Grayling Tobias of the Hazelwood School District in St. Louis County, Mo.

Superintendent Grayling Tobias of the Hazelwood School District in St. Louis County, Mo., started school as planned in August, despite the recent death of an unarmed 18-year-old who was shot multiple times in a confrontation with police in Ferguson, Mo.

Tobias arranged for extra police patrols at all buildings, and asked principals, social workers and counselors to be visible for students who need to talk or express their feelings.

Los Angeles USD Superintendent John Deasy announced plans in August to focus on boosting graduation rates this year. In 2014, 6,950 students dropped out of LAUSD schools. Deasy challenged administrators to reach out to specific students from that group and check up on them. He also praised the school board for approving a $15 per hour minimum wage for school staff.

Principal Jodie Cohen of James Madison High School, part of New York City public district, won the 2014 Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize from Teaching Matters in July. The award recognizes school leaders who start successful initiatives in schools, and includes a $25,000 check to expand the initiative. Cohen used teacher evaluations to create model classrooms for teachers to visit to enhance collaborative teaching.

Harold O. Levy was named executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, an independent organization dedicated to educating promising students who have financial needs. Levy was New York City Schools Chancellor from 2000 to 2002, and founded the city’s Teaching Fellows Program. He most recently worked in financial services and law, and managed investments in the education sector.

Indiana’s inspector general recently exonerated former state education superintendent Tony Bennett of any wrongdoing for changing the grade of a charter school from a C to an A. However, he was found guilty of using state resources for political campaign purposes, and agreed to pay a $5,000 fine.

Steve Siska of Peru, Ill., is the program coordinator of HUSKY (Helping Underprivileged School Kids Year-round), a program established by the United Way of Illinois Valley to get school supplies to students from low-income families. This fall, the program helped nearly 5,000 students in 29 area schools purchase items such as clothes and pencils.

Union County Public Schools Superintendent Mary Ellis was named the 2014-15 Regional Superintendent of the Year by the Southwest Regional Education Service Alliance. She has been the superintendent of the North Carolina district of 42,000 students since July 2012. The district’s 2013 graduation rate was nearly 91 percent, the highest in the state for large districts.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett authorized an advance of $265 million to the School District of Philadelphia in early August. The money will fill a budget gap that would have kept students from starting school on time this month. The district still has an $81 million budget gap, and officials continue to consider layoffs or a shortened school year.

Principal Chris Lehmann of the Science Leadership Academy in the School District of Philadelphia won the national Rising Star Prize, one of three awards included in the 2014 Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education. He will be presented with a $50,000 award this month. Lehmann founded the magnet school with the Franklin Institute science museum in 2006. Its mission is to close the achievement gap in STEM subjects for minority students.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has been elected chair of the Education Commission of the States, an organization that works to provide information for effective education policy. His education priorities include investing in high quality preschool programs and offering more college classes to high school students through dual-credit programs.