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Search for new Providence superintendent delayed

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When state leaders announced Dr. Javier Montañez as the new interim superintendent of Providence schools on June 8, Gov. Dan McKee said he hoped to have a permanent superintendent in place by the start of the school year this fall.

But that timeline appears uncertain, as the open position has not even been posted online yet for candidates to apply.

“We’re thinking about what makes sense,” R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said Thursday when asked by 12 News why the job isn’t posted. “We have taken a step back … I think we are regrouping and thinking about what the process should look like.”

The Providence schools have been controlled by the state since 2019.

Montañez was appointed last month after the dramatic fall of former Superintendent Harrison Peters, who had been brought on by Infante-Green last year following a nationwide search for a leader to help turn around the state’s largest school system.

Peters resigned at Infante-Green’s request after a top leader he hired was arrested for inappropriately touching a boy’s foot at at Warwick gym, and Peters acknowledged he had known about similar allegations against the administrator prior to hiring him. Peters negotiated a nearly $170,000 severance deal amid uproar about the situation.

Montañez was appointed to the interim role quickly after Peters’ exit, to significant praise from teachers and parents alike. But McKee and Infante-Green said a public process would quickly be put together to search for a permanent superintendent over the summer.

Asked if the position would be filled by fall, McKee said: “The goal to have it in advance of when the kids are in the classroom.”

Asked later in June why the job posting wasn’t up yet, Infante-Green said it would be posted “hopefully early next week.” But that did not happen.

Infante-Green says the R.I. Department of Education is now considering “what makes sense for the district,” though she did not elaborate on what that means for the timeline in hiring a new superintendent.

It’s unclear if Dr. Montañez will be considered for the permanent job. He previously declined to comment on whether he would apply, and this week declined an invitation to be interviewed on WPRI 12’s Pulse of Providence.

Montañez’ contract calls for a $195,000 salary and says he will serve as interim superintendent “at the pleasure of the commissioner” for an unspecified amount of time that will conclude as soon as a permanent superintendent is named.

The contract says Montañez would then return to his previous role as principal of Leviton Dual Language School.

Regardless of whether a permanent leader is in place this fall, Infante-Green said: “There will be a superintendent that will have the best interest of the students and the families.”

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) covers Providence, politics and more for WPRI 12. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook

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