Montañez to lead Providence schools for upcoming year

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The search for a permanent superintendent in Providence has been officially postponed, with state leaders announcing Friday morning that Dr. Javier Montañez, the interim superintendent, will remain in place as acting superintendent for the upcoming school year.

Gov. Dan McKee and Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green made the announcement Friday morning at the Leviton Dual Language School, where Montañez was the principal prior to being named interim superintendent.

His interim contract said he was slated to return to that post once a permanent superintendent is named.

McKee said Montañez has been a “fantastic partner” during his first two months on the job getting schools ready to reopen on Sept. 9.

“The community has responded in a powerful way” to Montañez, McKee said Friday morning. “Continuity from a strong leader like the doctor is key to a successful school year in Providence.”

“As we’re looking at the delta variant as we’re opening schools, we thought that it was most prudent, and the smartest decision we could make was to keep Dr. Montañez for the rest of the school year,” Infante-Green said. “His leadership is what we need at this moment.”

Montañez was appointed interim superintendent in June, following the ouster of former Superintendent Harrison Peters, who resigned in May amid a hiring scandal.

McKee and Infante-Green said at the time they would conduct a full search for a permanent leader over the summer, with McKee saying the goal was to have that new leader in place before the start of school in the fall.

But the job was never posted to start taking applications. Infante-Green initially said the R.I. Department of Education was still working on ironing out the search process, but later told 12 News in July they were taking a “step back” to reevaluate the superintendent plan.

“We had the right person to lead the district over the next year,” McKee said Friday when asked why the search was never conducted.

Infante-Green said a permanent hiring “process” would happen at some point during the year, but did not give a timeline for when the job might be posted online.

“It’s not a time for another change,” she said. “We didn’t want to feel rushed, because it’s an important decision.”

Montañez will make $200,000 for the acting superintendent job, a $5,000 raise from the interim role. He will also get a $350 per month car allowance, according to his new contract.

The state has controlled the Providence schools since 2019, after intervening due to poor academic outcomes and other factors.

Peters was the first permanent superintendent hired by Infante-Green as part of the turnaround effort. He started just weeks before COVID hit, which dramatically altered the first year of what is currently slated to be a five-year intervention.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Providence

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