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Newport News parents weigh in on what they want in next superintendent

Newport News Public Schools
Posted at 10:45 PM, Jan 26, 2023

NEWPORT NEWS, Va.— Parents are weighing in on what they want to see in the next superintendent for Newport News Public Schools after the school board voted on Wednesday night to fire superintendent Dr. George Parker III following the Jan. 6 shooting at Richneck Elementary School.

Parents said they lost trust in the school district and would like for the new superintendent to come in with hands-on solutions but they also want a leader who is transparent.

The school board has roughly six months to finalize its search.

"We need to definitely make sure we put someone in a position that's going to execute and stick to what they say," said Sajada Lewis, an NNPS parent.

The mother of five NNPS students said one of the traits a new superintendent should have is strong communication skills.

"They need to come in like superwoman, superman and save the day. Help us out," said Lewis. "I want to see a strong leader, somebody that will bring execution, somebody that would be serious about our prized possessions, our children. Someone that will take things seriously."

School board members said that the Jan. 6 incident "changed the culture and climate of the school district."

Dr. Parker served as superintendent since 2018. During his tenure, there have been three shootings that happened either inside a Newport News school or on school grounds.

A Richneck grandmother, Lawanda Sample-Rusk, is asking the school board to include parents in the overall selection process and she hopes to see the new hire take a more hands-on approach with students.

"Come to some events that are going on in the community, things that other outside organizations are doing to help make sure that our children are safe when they're on the street," said Sample-Rusk. "I feel like the new superintendent should be a part of that, so they would know what's going on outside of what's going on in schools."

Sample-Rusk believes NNPS needs a reality check and for someone to work from the ground up to restore broken trust from parents and staff members.

"We have to have someone that's going to get it done, be goal driven, have those goals," said Sample-Rusk.

Sample-Rusk believes these goals can be achieved by a new superintendent who focuses on diversity, parent involvement and equal opportunities for students.

A Newport News spokesperson said in the coming weeks, the school board will decide on how they will hire the next superintendent. In the past, they have listened to community input for leaders who took the position.