Dr. Dana Bedden named Richmond schools superintendent

Posted at 5:04 PM, Dec 22, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) --  The Richmond School Board appointed Dr. Dana Bedden as the school system's new superintendent following a Sunday afternoon meeting.

CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George said that the eight-member board voted unanimously for Bedden. Dr. Jones did not attend the meeting.

The surprise announcement came during the meeting when board members announced they would select the superintendent in a closed-door session if both candidates could be reached by phone.

Dr. Dana Bedden

Dr. Dana Bedden

Bedden'swas previously superintendent for the Irving Independent School District in Texas, which had over 35,000 students and 4500 employees.

During his three-year tenure in Texas, Bedden oversaw the district's $400 million budget and implemented a multi-year strategic plan, which involved improving internal and external communication. Bedden also developed a "balanced scorecard to support organizational improvement." [BONUS: Click here to read Bedden's bio provided by RPS {PDF}]

During his time in Irving, the school system's graduation rate jumped from 78 percent in 2009 to 86 percent in 2013.

Before Irving, Bedden also served as superintendent for Richmond County in Georgia and was a regional superintendent for Philadelphia Public Schools.

Bedden holds a doctorate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a master’s degree from Pennsylvania State University. He earned a
bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.

The appointment comes just days after leading candidate Dr. Anthony Jackson, Superintendent of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools in North Carolina, announced he had withdrawn his name for consideration.

A school board member told CBS 6 News last weekend that the public’s response was more favorable toward Bedden. The announcement comes ahead of the school board's scheduled Monday meeting.

Richmond Public Schools  has been searching for a superintendent since Dr. Yvonne Brandon announced she was leaving in April after 35 years on the job.

For months, there had been speculation over whether Brandon would continue to lead the struggling school system.

“There was likely a difference of philosophy where the schools should go [or] ought to go,” Richmond School Board Chair Jeffrey Bourne said in April.

The city school system has faced various challenges, including a massive budget deficit, low graduation rates and questions over wasteful spending.

Watch CBS 6 News after "The Mentalist" -- and stay with -- for the latest on this developing story.