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St. Louis Public School superintendent mentioned in search for LA job

Kelvin Adams 2012
courtesy St. Louis Public Schools

Kelvin Adams, who has been superintendent of the St. Louis Public Schools since 2008, has surfaced as a candidate for the top school job in Los Angeles.

Quoting unnamed sources, the Los Angeles Times said Wednesday that a five-hour meeting to choose a new superintendent Tuesday ended with no consensus. But, it added, “sources have said that the shortlist has included LA Chief Deputy Superintendent Michelle King and St. Louis Superintendent Kelvin Adams.”

Adams declined to be interviewed on Wednesday or respond to questions about whether he had applied for the LA job or his name had been put in without his knowledge. His contract with SLPS expires at the end of June of this year, but he has signed earlier contract extensions in February of the years prior to the end of his contract.

Rick Sullivan, the president of the three-member Special Administrative Board that runs the city schools, said Adams has always been very straightforward with the board and has kept it apprised of the situation in Los Angeles. And, he added, seeing Adams’ name mentioned in a high-profile search is not unusual.

“I’m certainly not surprised,” he said in an interview, “given the kind of job he’s done here. I am confident that he has been contacted and approached by many people who recognize he is a terrific educational leader.”

Sullivan said that “of course I’d like to see him stay,” and he recalled the responses to the board when it was doing its background search on Adams during the hiring process in 2008.

“When we did our due diligence in hiring him when he was still in New Orleans,” he said, “literally every educational institution that we spoke to advised us that he had a standing offer to come to work or return to work wherever he had been. So I think he’s highly respected, highly thought of and has a great reputation nationally.”

Since Adams has been superintendent, the city schools have progressed in the three areas that prompted appointment of the SAB in the first place: financial stability, governance and academic achievement.

The district moved up from unaccredited status to provisional accreditation in 2012, and its showing in this year’s annual report card from the state put it in the range for full accreditation.

SLPS asked the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state board of education for such an upgrade at the state board’s meeting last month, but the board declined. It said it wanted the city schools to show that they can sustain the momentum they showed this year before its accreditation status was improved.

The SAB was not satisfied with that response and formally asked the state board to reconsider. The request was granted and the issue is on the agenda for the state board meeting in Jefferson City next Tuesday, but DESE is still recommending that the city schools remain provisionally accredited.

The current term of the SAB expires at the end of June, at the same time as Adams’ contract, but state school officials note that the SAB’s authority and the issue of accreditation will be dealt with separately.

Follow Dale on Twitter: @dalesinger

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