DeRay Mckesson joins Baltimore City Public Schools

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has launches five-year community schools initiative
By: | August 12, 2016

DeRay Mckesson is the interim chief human capital officer for Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland, managing personnel, staffing, benefits and other related issues. The civil rights activist and former Baltimore mayoral candidate returns to the human capital office, where for 2 1/2 years he oversaw key reforms as a strategist and special assistant.

He now manages 56 employees and a $4 million budget. Mckesson also served in Minneapolis Public Schools until he resigned two years ago to protest the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has launched a five-year K12 reform initiative to create 25 community schools. With the support of the city council, the teachers’ union and education advocacy groups, Kenney’s plan transforms schools into neighborhood community centers to offer support services to address health concerns, food insecurity and behavioral health issues. The initiative is being funded by a citywide tax on sweetened beverages.

Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist employed the popular “carpool karaoke” format to update staff on events across her district. Inspired by the viral success of TV’s “The Late Late Show” with comedian James Corden, Gist created an 8-minute YouTube clip in which she picks up two educators and drives around.

They sing pop songs and discuss upcoming district events and workshops, PD, curriculum updates and classroom management. See video at

After retiring as superintendent of Katy ISD in Texas, Alton L. Frailey has been named president of AASA, the School Superintendents Association, for 2016-17. Frailey leads AASA’s effort to support school district leadership and promote superintendent accomplishments. He has served on AASA’s executive committee since 2011, and was president of the Texas Association of School Administrators.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie launched an initiative requiring all 3,000 schools in New Jersey to test water for lead exposure by July 2017. The initiative comes after 30 Newark schools found lead levels as high as 35 times above the federal action limit last spring.

It also mandates that districts test water for drinking and cooking at least once every six years. Districts that test within 365 days will be eligible for state reimbursement after $10 million is first allocated for testing.

Richard A. Carranza is the new superintendent of Houston ISD, moving over from San Francisco USD where he served as superintendent since 2012.

Carranza, who is fluent in Spanish, has championed many equity-focused strategies for driving student academic achievement with the goal of graduating students who are globally aware, culturally competent and multilingual. He has also worked to reduce disciplinary suspensions with practices that help students remain in classrooms.