JCPS board decides to hire Hargens as superintendent - News, Weather & Sports

JCPS board decides to hire Hargens as superintendent

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The Jefferson County School Board has voted to hire Dr. Donna Hargens as the new superintendent of schools effective August 1, 2011.

Hargens, who is currently the chief academic officer and acting superintendent in Wake County, NC, will replace Dr. Sheldon Berman. The school board voted in December 2010 not to renew Berman's contract when it expires on June 30. Berman has taken a job in Oregon.

Hargens was one of two finalists for the job. She was selected over Dr. Christine Johns of Utica, MI.

The vote was unanimous. Hargens is a candidate the school board feels will lead them in the right direction and focus on student achievement for all.

"She's highly regarded in the educational community and I think she will be a perfect fit for Jefferson County," said Joseph Hardesty, District 4 JCPS board member.

Hargens has never held the title of superintendent, but for nearly a year served as interim superintendent for Wake County schools in North Carolina.

"She has such a great record in improving student achievement everywhere she has been within the district of Wake, she has served in various leadership roles," said Linda Duncan, District 5 JCPS board member.

Hargens has said there are several parallels between JCPS and her current district. While JCPS is about 40,000 students smaller, there are similar demographics. 

"She's brought up student achievement, she knows how it should be done for all students and I think we are very excited to have this person as a choice for us here in Jefferson County," said Debbie Wesslund, District 3 JCPS board member.

During the interview process, Hargens was leery to take a stance on the student assignment plan, but made it clear that the school board adopted a plan for the current school year and her job is to implement it. She'll also work with consultant Dr. Gary Orfield to improve it.

"She does believe in diversity and she is going to keep our plan in place until Dr. Orfield comes in and she will work with Dr. Orfield to make changes that need to be made," said Carol Haddad, District 6 JCPS board member.

This is news that has some parents feeling optimistic about the board's choice. "She has a good reputation and it is not a bad choice going towards the Jefferson County School District," said Antawan Fields, parent.

WAVE 3 did contact Dr. Hargens by phone, but couldn't reach her. In a statement, she says she is looking forward to moving JCPS to the next level, and while there are challenges, there are tremendous opportunities.

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