The next JCPS leader already works for the district. Both the school board and screening committee have narrowed their search for the next JCPS superintendent to two candidates: Acting Superintendent Marty Pollio and Chief Operations Officer Michael Raisor.

The board and search committees initially had nine candidates, but board attorney Frank Mellen announced late Tuesday that both bodies had only two candidates remaining.

Pollio told Insider that he was “excited to be a finalist.”

He said leading JCPS has been an honor, and he was proud of the district’s progress under his leadership.

Raisor told Insider that he was “thrilled by this opportunity. I’m passionate about JCPS and the work that we do.”

The COO said JCPS should see every challenge as an opportunity to make the district better for kids.

Insider profiled both of the candidates in December. Both have worked as teachers and principals. Both had a mother who was a teacher.

The district will seek public input in the next few weeks before it makes a decision on March 1.

Pollio or Raisor will succeed Donna Hargens, who resigned July 1, in part because of intensifying scrutiny from the state.

State Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt is nearing the end of an extensive months-long investigation into “significant deficiencies” related to matters including physical restraining of students, student-on-student sexual assault, low academic achievement and black students receiving long-term suspensions with a disproportionate and greater frequency than non-black students.

The severity of the noncompliance with state and federal law that the state has uncovered so far spurred Pruitt on Sept. 20 to take the rare step of demanding that JCPS take immediate actions to correct violations of state and federal laws, including some that protect the health, safety and education opportunities of students with disabilities.

In its response, the district wrote that it is addressing the deficiencies in part by creating written procedures, providing more staff training and developing processes to make sure that policies are being followed. Pollio wrote that the district would immediately inform all principals of the steps that needed to be taken to correct the violations. The district also created additional staffing positions, including five school psychologists.

The decision to elevate a current JCPS employee to the top leadership position is a marked shift from the district’s last superintendent selection process. Hargens in 2011 was brought to Louisville from Wake County, North Carolina, where she served as chief academic officer.

Newly elected JCPS Board Chair Diane Porter and Vice Chair Lisa Willner. | Photo by Boris Ladwig

Immediate past board Chair Chris Brady, who is the board’s representative on the Superintendent Screening Committee, told Insider that the narrowing of applicants to two local candidates was not a rebuke of the prior board’s approach but a reflection of the high quality of internal candidates.

Brady’s term as board chair ended Tuesday. He said that while he would remain on the board, he needed to attend to family matters and therefore had no time to continue to serve in a leadership capacity. The board unanimously elected Diane Porter as new JCPS board chair, and Lisa Willner as vice chair.

Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.


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