Superintendent Reid to exit NSD, enter controversy

The+FCPS+school+board+at+its+April+14+meeting+where+it+confirmed+Reid+as+the+new+Superintendent.++Photo+by+Kellen+Hoard.

Kellen Hoard

The FCPS school board at its April 14 meeting where it confirmed Reid as the new Superintendent. Photo by Kellen Hoard.

Kellen Hoard, Co-editor-in-chief

On July 1, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid will leave her post at Northshore School District to become the Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. The move comes after six years leading NSD. News of her potential move was announced on April 9 when the Fairfax County NAACP leaked the names of two finalists for the position—Reid and Superintendent of Omaha Public Schools Dr. Cheryl Logan. The NAACP said it leaked the names because “the difference in pertinent experience between the two finalists was so shocking.” The NAACP supported Logan.

In their press release, the NAACP made clear there were multiple reasons it did not support Reid. One reason stated was the lack of experience Reid has with a district the size of FCPS; while the Virginian school district has 180,000 students and 25,000 employees, NSD has just 23,000 students and 2,100 employees. The NAACP also raised concerns about what they said was Reid’s unfamiliarity with a district as racially diverse as FCPS (2% Black students in NSD versus 25% Black students in FCPS, for example) and a lack of progress toward closing academic achievement gaps in NSD (22% of Hispanic students passed standardized math exams versus 74% of Asian students, for example).

On April 11, Logan withdrew her name from consideration, although the NAACP said she had made the decision prior to the leak. Reid became the only finalist, and protests arose from students, parent groups and civic organizations like the Fairfax Alliance of Black Educators. Those protests raised issues in regard to the achievement gaps, the timing and length of NSD’s COVID-19 school closures under Reid and what they said was a lack of community input and transparency into the decision-making process.

Despite the opposition by some, on April 14 the FCPS Board voted 9-3 to confirm Reid. Following the confirmation, further protests broke out, including students at several high schools who walked out of class over what they said was insufficient community outreach prior to the decision. Opinion pieces by a student and parent in FCPS were published in outlets like the Washington Post, with titles such as “Fairfax County schools double down on failure.”

Those who supported Reid defended her qualifications to lead the district. “I have been impressed by her early depth of knowledge about the challenges we face here in Fairfax Public Schools, her integrity and her eagerness to work on behalf of our students with everyone in this room and in Fairfax County,” said FCPS Board Chair Stella Perkarsky during the confirmation meeting. “Thousands upon thousands of people were invited [to provide input] through public forums, the survey town halls and individual meetings,” noted At-Large board member Abrar Omeish

In the weeks since, Reid has met with members of the NAACP, visited classrooms in FCPS and has pledged to meet with other community stakeholders, including students. After the confirmation vote, Reid spoke to the FCPS Board on her approach to the new position.

“I’m grateful to have this opportunity and I’m thrilled to serve this community and earn the trust of each of you on the board. I’ve listened carefully and will be thoughtful and reflective about everything I’ve heard and you will have my best,” said Reid.

On April 18, the NSD school board met to begin deliberations over who will replace Reid. Since there were just 77 days between Reid’s confirmation and her departure—and her FCPS confirmation was late in the school year—the board said there were too few qualified candidates available for the position. The board therefore decided that it will seek to find an interim superintendent by June 30 through an executive search consulting firm. This interim superintendent will serve during the 2022-2023 school year, and this fall the board will begin the search for a permanent superintendent.