Outgoing interim Jefferson Schools superintendent hopes to retain a role under new administration _lowres

Michelle Blouin-Williams

Outgoing Jefferson Parish Schools Superintendent James Meza said he will recommend his chief academic officer serve as interim superintendent after his departure, though the president of the School Board tried to tamp down any speculation as premature.

Meza, who said Wednesday that he’ll leave his post by the end of September, suggested CAO Michelle Blouin-Williams would be an ideal choice to replace him until a new permanent superintendent is chosen next year.

Meza said she would also make a great candidate for the job permanently, though he noted the decision is up to the board.

Blouin-Williams was promoted a year ago from chief human capital officer to her current post. She has been with the district since 1989.

School Board President Mike Delesdernier said that while Blouin-Williams would be a worthy candidate, the board will consider applicants when the time comes. He said attention needs to be focused on preparing for the upcoming school year.

“Michelle would be a great one,” he said. “I have full confidence in Michelle, but at this early stage we don’t need the distraction of who’s going to be the next (interim) superintendent.”

Meza himself came in as an interim superintendent in early 2011 but had his contract extended for three years after only three months. He instituted a series of reforms to the system, raising its grade from a D to a B and bringing the budget back into the black.

He enjoyed the support of a majority of the nine-member board, sometimes unanimously, during his tenure.

Delesdernier said the interim superintendent will be selected before the November School Board elections, which are expected to change the makeup of the board to some degree, and likely will serve into next summer.

He said Meza’s permanent replacement should be chosen when the pool of potential candidates is deepest — just after the 2014-15 school year ends.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.