RI Education Commissioner announces her proposal for Providence Schools

By: News Staff

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – It took decades to reach rock bottom for the public schools in Providence, and now we are learning how Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green plans to bring the district back to an acceptable standard.

Infante-Green releasing her proposal today outlining how a complete takeover where she assumes all power will work in Providence. 

This comes after that scathing Johns Hopkins University report outlined terrible test scores, poor student engagement and disgusting building conditions.

Going forward the commissioner is proposing having complete control over the district’s budget, programs, personnel, as well as administration.

That means Infante-Green will have the power of the school board, Superintendent and even the mayor and city council when it comes to decisions for the district.

The statement below includes the Proposal for Decision and Order given to the personnel she now has the power of:

“The Commissioner shall exercise all the powers and authorities delegated by the Council [on Elementary and Secondary Education] to the Commissioner and all powers of RIDE over the budget, program and personnel of PPSD and over the school’s governance and facilities. The Commissioner shall also exercise all powers and authorities currently exercised by the Providence School Board and Superintendent (Acting, Interim or Permanent), as well as all powers and authorities currently exercised by the Mayor of Providence and the Providence City Council as it pertains to PPSD and its schools.”

In the 122 page document sent over to the Mayor, Infante-Green said that the decision is because the problems are structural, and that a state overhaul is the only way to get the district back on track.

This overhaul will happen for at least three years. If at that point the district has shown improvements, the power will be given back over to the city, and Infante-Green said that is the ultimate goal.

The commissioner will appoint what’s called a “turnaround superintendent.” This person will assume all of the powers given to the commissioner in regards to the district decisions, but Infante-Green will have the final say on everything.

“Once I identify the turnaround superintendent, that person will be charged to go out, work with the community, create a plan and come back,” Infante-Green told reporters Thursday afternoon. “Children need to be front and center.”

While no specific plan has been announced yet, as that plan will be with the turnaround superintendent, Infante-Green said that there are guarantees about what parents can expect in just three years.

“School culture change, professional development for teacher change. Systems in place that will actually respond to the community,” she said. “The system is broken.”

Mayor Elorza has until September 13th to argue against this decision, but at a press conference, he said that he will not be objecting, and is in favor of the takeover.

“For a massive project like this, you need everyone rolling in the same direction. I believe we can create an entirely different model here in Providence,” Elorza said. “Something that really hasn’t been done throughout the country.”

Council President Sabina Matos also answering back calling the proposal a “necessary step.”

“This process was never going to be easy, but I hope this will be an opportunity to transform our school system and serves all of our students. It is essential that all stakeholders, including the City Council, have a seat at the table as we navigate these changes,” Matos said in a statement.


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