Livingston School Board set to promote one of its assistant superintendents to lead the school system _lowres

Rick Wentzel

The Livingston Parish School Board on Thursday gave the nod to an insider, one of its assistant superintendents, to lead the school system.

The board, at its June 16 meeting, will finalize the decision to promote Assistant Superintendent Rick Wentzel.

The board made the recommendation after interviewing Wentzel and three other candidates:

Arronza LaBatt, executive director to the deputy superintendent of Montgomery County public schools in Maryland and a former chemistry teacher at Glen Oaks High School.

Liz Swinford, consultant and former superintendent of schools in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She also is a former associate superintendent for human resources with the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.

Mark Torbert, principal at South Terrebonne High School.

If approved, Wentzel would replace retiring Superintendent John Watson. The board was aiming to have a new superintendent in place by July 1. Watson’s last day in the district’s top post will be June 30.

During the meeting, board member Jim Richardson noted that Wentzel’s list of priorities all began with the words “continue to,” indicating he would not make any major changes from the Watson administration.

Wentzel also told the board he felt like he had been interviewing for this position for the past nine years.

“You know me, and I know you,” he told the board. “I love this system. It’s my life. It’s my family’s life.”

Wentzel spent 22 of his 30 years in education with the Livingston Parish school system. Prior to serving as assistant superintendent, he worked as human resources supervisor and principal at Walker Junior High, North Corbin Junior High and Springfield High, among other posts.

Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen, and call her at (225) 336-6981.