The Orleans Parish School Board has hired two high-level administrators who worked under former Jefferson Parish schools Superintendent James Meza, one of whom was recently passed over to succeed him.
Michelle Blouin-Williams, who was interim superintendent for the Jefferson Parish Public School System until the board selected Isaac Joseph as permanent superintendent in May, will become the Orleans Parish system’s chief administrative officer.
Mary Garton, who was chief of staff and chief human capital officer in Jefferson until she resigned in March, will become chief portfolio officer in Orleans, where she will oversee the system’s 18 charter schools.
Stan Smith, the Orleans Parish system’s chief financial officer and former interim superintendent, will stay on as CFO, a post he’s held since 2006.
Henderson Lewis Jr., who took over as Orleans superintendent in February, announced the moves Thursday.
“When I was hired, one of my top priorities was to move the Orleans Parish schools in the direction of portfolio management and build a network of schools that would yield positive academic gains for our students,” Lewis said in a news release. “The first step in that process is hiring individuals who I believe possess the skills and background to move us in that direction.”
Salaries have not yet been determined.
Blouin-Williams was chief academic officer under Meza, and Meza made her his deputy superintendent in October, several months before he stepped down, with the hope she would succeed him.
Blouin-Williams then served as interim superintendent for several months and was one of six candidates vying for the permanent job earlier this year. She was considered the likely front-runner, but the board ultimately chose Joseph, who was the system’s director of grants and federal programs and a close ally of School Board President Cedric Floyd.
Jefferson Parish School Board elections had just tilted the board from the business-backed majority that hired Meza to a teachers union-backed majority.
After the board hired Joseph, some members expressed hope that Blouin-Williams would stay on and find a place in Joseph’s staff.
Lewis said the post of chief of network schools, who oversees the School Board’s traditional schools, Youth Study Center and Alternative Learning Institute, “will not be filled at this time.”
“The HR and leadership team will ensure that the responsibilities of this position continue to be carried out while we resume our search for a candidate that can best fill this position,” he said.
Lewis said the second phase of his reorganization plan will be completed in August, including a reduction in central office staff and changes to address federal grant funding for schools.
Lewis has said one of his main goals in Orleans will be to get public education, which is now run mostly by the state through the Recovery School District, back under local control.
He has said he also plans to run the system as a “portfolio district,” where the central office focuses more on school performance and accountability, rather than a traditional role of day-to-day management.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.