desk stock file photo school

During a tour of the West Jefferson High School with coronavirus precautions it can be seen that each desk in the classroom has a grey or red sticker on the top corner in Harvey, La. Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Each period, students will be asked to alternate their use of desks and to clean them off after each class. The school is scheduled to open on August 26. (Photo by Max Becherer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

A charter school-friendly education reform advocate and a former elementary school literacy director are the latest newcomers to the growing leadership team of new East Baton Rouge Parish schools superintendent Sito Narcisse.

They are filling jobs that no one has held in years.

Narcisse officially announced the new hires Monday, but apprised School Board members during the weekend.

New Baton Rouge schools chief gets four top staff jobs, pulls back from larger shakeup

The timing of the new hires come as a surprise. Narcisse, who started on Jan. 18, downscaled initial plans that would have paved the way for a bunch of new hires after facing School Board resistance. He settled for just four new positions. He said would revisit the rest of that plan after the completion of a special “transition report” due March 4. It’s being prepared by the Charlotte, N.C.-based Van Fleet Group.

In an interview, Narcisse said he’s since decided that he needed to hire at least a couple of new people before that transition report is complete.

Board President David Tatman said he was surprised by the timing of the new hires, but notes that almost all personnel decisions are the purview of the superintendent, not the board.

“We approve the job descriptions and the salary ranges, and he makes the decisions,” Tatman said.

Tatman, however, said he plans in the coming weeks to review old job descriptions with an eye toward eliminating those that are no longer necessary.

Alex Deiro Stubbs, the new executive assistant of parent and community engagement, is the best known of the new hires as well as the most controversial. She is scheduled to start work Tuesday. She is making $130,000 a year, the same as the rest of the other new senior cabinet members, whom she will join.

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Stubbs has spent the past seven years with Stand For Children. She was its marketing and communications director, and later shifted to education advocacy. Stand For Children, which supports charter schools, is best known for the big dollars it has poured into local and state school board elections, including several in Baton Rouge. Several current board members either benefited or had to fend off political attacks funded by Stand and other education reform groups.

Its Baton Rouge chapter has an active base of parents who, among other things, have lobbied in recent years for more attention to low-performing schools and tougher academic performance goals for former Superintendent Warren Drake.

A Southern California native and a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduate, Stubbs worked as a local TV reporter for four years before joining Stand for Children in 2014. Two of those years were at WVLA, Ch. 33, in Baton Rouge. In her bio, she points to her work at Stand on digital media campaigns and efforts to increase investment in early childhood education.

Stubbs is filling a position last held by Marvin Trotter, who had it from 2012 to 2015. It was a senior leadership level job. Trotter was the first hire of then-new Superintendent Bernard Taylor and had worked with Taylor in his previous job in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As part of his Baton Rouge job, Trotter oversaw communications as well as school-level parent liaisons and “youth advocates.” Both Trotter’s job and the youth advocates positions were left vacant after Taylor left in 2015.

The other new hire is Barbara Patrick Lashley, the new director of reading. Her annual salary is $107,000 and she will report to Chief Academic Officer Michael Robinson. She is set to start sometime this week.

The last director of reading was laid off in 2012 during a round of budget cuts. It was a job created seven years earlier to take advantage of the federal Reading First initiative.

Currently a high school counselor in Dekalb County, Ga., Lashley was previously director of elementary literacy in Metro Nashville public schools, working with 74 schools as part of a districtwide literacy plan. Narcisse, who was chief of schools in Nashville from 2016 and 2019, worked with Lashley during that time. Narcisse has said he plans to revamp how East Baton Rouge does early literacy.

Before going to Nashville, Lashley spent 10 years as a reading facilitator and then five more years as a trainer with the Success for All Foundation. Success For All, a whole school reform pioneered by Johns Hopkins University, is best known for requiring a 90-minute reading period at the beginning of each day. Lashley also worked for a time as the director of reading at Project GRAD Atlanta, leading the implementation of reading reform and leadership for 26 schools in Atlanta.


Email Charles Lussier at clussier@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.