LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – As the second-largest school district in Kentucky narrows the search for a new superintendent, the community is getting to ask candidates their questions to the potential leaders, including how they would lead Fayette County Public Schools in a post pandemic world.
“Overcoming the mental health ills of many students is going to be a challenge. We need to be armed and ready to take care of that,” candidate Dr. Melvin Brown said.
Parents heard Thursday from Angela Dominguez, Dr. Melvin Brown and Dr. Christopher Bernier. They were asked about a range of topics, including keeping virtual learning options for students in the fall.
“We’re going to have to stand up something to support families around this, I think for the next few months for sure. I also believe that a lot of kids that thrived in virtual learning want us to explore a blended model and I’m really open to that,” Dominguez said.
The district is offering a virtual learning academy in the fall for students. They already have about 1,000 signed up for the learning option. Dominguez says she would like to rethink the typical setting, especially for high school students, which would give them a college feel of in-person and online.
Other hot button issues asked included resource officers in schools. Dr. Bernier says though it’s nice to have that protection, should it be needed and define their roles. He also brought up a faith-based route he has used in his schools.
“We created a process in my school buildings where those youth pastors who were able to access our students doing their lunch hour,” Dr. Bernier said. “I also used them later on in my career in my alternative education role to support young people and help them make better decisions.”
The community met two of the other candidates Wednesday night, during a virtual forum. Both candidates addressed a variety of topics to show how they would tackle some of the big issues facing our students today.
The school board is asking viewers to submit their thoughts and feedback on the five finalists by Friday. You can do that through the district’s website.
Here’s a full list of the candidates:
- Dr. Christopher S. Bernier, Ed.D. – Dr. Bernier serves as the chief of staff for the Clark County School District (CCSD) in Las Vegas, Nevada. As an executive cabinet member in the 5th largest school district in the U.S. since 2019, Dr. Bernier drives and executes the student-centered vision for over 310,000 students and 42,000 employees. Dr. Bernier serves as chair of the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Committee for Goals and Objectives. He has achieved an over 10 percent increase in graduation rates, revitalized magnet programs, and created unique partnerships for college and career pathways for students.
- Dr. Melvin J. Brown, Ed.D. – Since 2017, Dr. Melvin Brown has served as the superintendent of Reynoldsburg City Schools, a district with 7,300 students in the metropolitan area of Columbus, Ohio. Prior to this role, he was associate superintendent at Prince William County Public Schools in Virginia, a district of 89,000 students and a county population of 400,000. While at Reynoldsburg, Dr. Brown worked diligently to address district inequities in high school programming, including Advanced Placement and College Credit Plus enrollment.
- Angela Dominguez – Ms. Dominguez serves as the assistant superintendent of academic services in Edgewood Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas, a large, urban district of about 10,000 students. Previously, she served as the district’s chief of secondary schools and executive director of school leadership. Ms. Dominguez is making great strides in providing equitable opportunities for scholars of Edgewood, a high-poverty district. Accomplishments across her 26-year career include collaboration with external partners (e.g., Texas A&M, Texas Council for International Studies, and others) to create unique learning opportunities for Edgewood students, improved academic accountability from a D grade to a C, selection as a Principal of the Year semi-finalist by a Texas-based corporation, and recognition as the Bilingual Administrator of the Year by a local chapter of bilingual educators.
- Dr. Tawana Grover, Ph.D. – Dr. Tawana Grover is superintendent of Grand Island Public Schools in Grand Island, Nebraska, a district of over 10,000 students. Prior to becoming a superintendent in 2016, she served leadership roles in DeSoto Independent Schools—a suburban district of Dallas, Texas with 10,000 students—as chief human resource officer, executive director of federal programs, director of special programs, and principal.
- Dr. Demetrus Liggins, Ph.D. – Dr. Demetrus Liggins has served since 2016 as superintendent of schools in Greenville Independent School District, an urban district of 5,000 students outside of Dallas, Texas. Previously, Dr. Liggins has been a bilingual/Spanish classroom teacher; an assistant principal; an elementary, middle, and high school principal; and an area superintendent of schools, in districts with as many as 35,000 students. In his current role, Dr. Liggins has increased student outcomes at all levels, including minority and economically-disadvantaged students’ performance, led the creation of a 5-year strategic plan and graduate profile, and transitioned several traditional schools to schools of choice, which helped improve equity across the district.