LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – After a months-long search for a new superintendent, the Fayette County Board of Education says it’s in the final stage of choosing a new leader for their district.
“More than 50 leaders applied. More than 50 leaders who want to help us to address our challenges,” Board Chair Tyler Murphy said.
The five finalists come from as nearby as Columbus, and as far as Nebraska, Texas, and even Nevada, all with some sort of background in diversity and equity, which are areas the district says families were most concerned about.
“That was really one of the things that really bubbled to the top when we looked at surveys and we look at the input sessions. Our community is committed to finding a candidate that has a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” Murphy said.
Murphy said more than 5,000 people gave feedback to help them shape the profile for an ideal candidate. However, the Lexington chapter of the NAACP says they were not included in the search as much as they would have liked.
“I can say I’ve been the education chair since 2013 and the board has been more responsive to the NAACP than they are at this time,” said Shambra Mulder, the education chair with the Lexington chapter of the NAACP.
In response, the district says there will be multiple opportunities for input through virtual forums and a meet and greet over the next week.
“We are committed to engaging every stakeholder. We recognize that this incoming superintendent will be a community leader and they will be active and engaged in the community,” Murphy said.
Students will get the chance to interview the candidates on Tuesday. There will also be virtual public forums on Wednesday and Thursday, and on June 2, an in-person meet and greet is scheduled.
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.