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Livingston Parish Superintendent of Schools Rick Wentzel speaks as school officials reveal designs for the new Denham Springs Elementary School which is scheduled to open in August 2021 during a meeting at the current location of the school Wednesday March 12, 2019.

Five people have applied to succeed Livingston Parish School Superintendent Rick Wentzel, who has announced plans to retire in June.

The application period closed Friday and drew three top administrators from within the 26,000-student school system and two outside candidates.

The internal candidates are Bruce Chaffin, Alan "Joe" Murphy and Jody Purvis. The candidates from outside the school system are C. Michael Robinson Jr., of Thibodaux, and Elizabeth Swinford, of Staten Island, New York.

All of the candidates are qualified to seek the job, said Steve Vampran, human resources supervisor for the school system.

The School Board is scheduled to interview all the candidates during a special public committee meeting April 15, with a vote to be held three days later. 

Chaffin is supervisor of personnel. He has worked in the Livingston Parish schools for 31 years in roles including supervisor instruction/personnel and principal of Albany High School and Frost School, according to his resume.

He holds a B.S. in science-health and physical education from Louisiana Tech and a master's of education in supervision and administration from Southeastern Louisiana University.

Chaffin says in a cover letter that his experience working in different areas of the school system and innovations in the human resources department make him an apt leader.

Murphy serves as assistant superintendent. He has worked with the school system since 1992 and worked as supervisor of instruction and principal of Southside Junior High School, among other roles, according to his resume.

Murphy holds a B.A. in education from LSU and an M.A. in educational administration and supervision from the University of Southern Mississippi.

He was deeply involved in rebuilding the schools that flooded during August 2016. If selected, his priority would be to maintain the trust of the community and "place LPPS at the forefront of public education excellence in our country," Murphy wrote in a cover letter.

Purvis is the supervisor of high school instruction. He has worked in the school system since 1998, including as principal of French Settlement Elementary School and Springfield High School, according to his resume.

He holds a B.S. in vocational education and agricultural education from LSU and a master's degree in education administration and supervision from Southern University.

Purvis wrote in a cover letter of his experience improving school scores at Springfield High School and increasing the opportunities for Advanced Placement and career education while he worked in the central office. He cites innovation as a priority in his cover letter.

Robinson is a senior associate at BRP Associates in Jonesboro, Georgia, focusing on training and coaching for principals. Previously, he was superintendent of schools at the Pine Bluff School District in Arkansas and instructional director at Prince George's County Public Schools in Maryland, according to his resume.

He began his career as a teacher in Lafourche Parish, the resume says.

Robinson holds a B.A. in elementary education from Southern University in New Orleans, an M.S. in educational leadership from Troy State University, and an Ed.D. and Ed.S. in educational leadership from Argosy University, his resume says.

Robinson wrote in a cover letter that he would work to engage families, community and faith-based stakeholders to carry out the school board's vision, as well as to advocate for equitable access for all students. 

Swinford is a former superintendent of the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, County School System and the Vicksburg Warren School District in Mississippi. She currently works as the CEO of PD Remix, a company in Forest Hills, New York, that recruits international teachers to the U.S., according to her resume. 

Earlier in her career, she worked as associate superintendent for human resources in East Baton Rouge Parish and as director of certified personnel in Caddo Parish.

She holds a B.A. in biology from Interamerican University in Puerto Rico, and an M.S. in educational leadership and an Ed.D. in organizational leadership from Nova Southeastern University, her resume says.

In a cover letter, Swinford describes herself as an "innovative leader who has embraced an entrepreneurial approach to meet the changing needs of school systems." She applied for the top job in Livingston Parish three years ago and was not selected. 


Follow Caroline Grueskin on Twitter, @cgrueskin.