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New EBR Supt. Sito Narcisse, left, speaks during a town hall meeting, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, to discuss his plan to start schools two weeks early next school year, at the Woodlawn Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La.

New East Baton Rouge Parish schools leader Sito Narcisse is continuing to remake and expand the Central Office, recently announcing the hiring of four high level administrators from outside the district and the promotion of four more from within.

These are the latest in a series of hires Narcisse has made since taking over the state’s second largest traditional school district in January, home to more than 40,000 students. He has generally looked outside, often out of state.

His senior cabinet has expanded from 13 to 16 members and features seven new faces, six in newly created positions.

And he’s not done. Still to be hired are several more new administrative positions: deputy chief of policy, director of equity & diversity, director of multi-tiered systems of support, literacy innovation coordinator, district 504 coordinator and lead social worker.

Narcisse, a Long Island, N.Y. native who’s worked in many large school districts but is new to Louisiana, is paying for this burst of hiring with a mix of local funds and federal COVID relief money.

When he started, Narcisse said his reorganization would ultimately prove “budget neutral.” So far, that’s not the case. Just the cost of the senior cabinet has grown from $1.5 to $2.3 million compared with before he arrived, a 51% increase.

But even as he’s pulling in people from across the country, Narcisse has turned strictly inward so far when it comes to hiring school-level leaders.

In announcements sent internally on June 5 and July 1, Narcisse named new principals for nine schools, all of them veteran employees. He also named nine new assistant principals, again all in-house.

At Broadmoor and Dufrocq elementaries, the new leaders are replacing principals who’ve been there for decades. Larry Harris recently retired after 30 years leading Broadmoor, and Mary Robvais retired after serving as principal at Dufrocq for 20 years.

And Southeast Middle is getting a new principal for the first time in 11 years after longtime principal Amber Boyd got promoted to a Central Office position in Human Resources.

Of the nine new principals, six were previously assistant principals at other schools and one was coordinator of a magnet program.

Narcisse still needs to settle on leaders for Broadmoor High and Cedarcrest-Southmoor Elementary, after their principals Stacy Bradford and Christal Aguillard-Sylvain were recently promoted to Central Office to become executive directors.

Executive directors are usually not members of the senior cabinet, but are still important in providing the most direct oversight and support for school principals. Narcisse has so far hired four new executive directors and promoted four more from within. And five of the executive directors who were there when he arrived are gone, either demoted or leaving the district.

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Here are the four newly hired executive directors:

The new executive directors promoted from within are Bradford and Aguillard-Sylvain, but also Demetric Alexander, Cesar Rico and Shalika Scott. Alexander and Rico were previously principals of Bernard Terrace and Twin Oaks elementaries, both of which now have new principals. Scott was the director of professional development.

Narcisse has changed around the duties of the executive directors. For instance, rather than focus on elementary, middle or high schools, Narcisse is having administrators support schools regionally no matter the grade levels present at the schools.

In the case of Rico, his executive director duties focus on students who are learning English, previously a lower position.

Of the four executive directors who catered to elementary schools, only one, Laura Williams, is left.

Darlene Brister, who was the longtime principal of Ryan Elementary, retired in March. She has since become the principal of Iberville Charter Academy in Plaquemine. Her daughter-in-law, Jessica Brister, and colleague Joni Roberts are no longer executive directors. Also no longer holding an executive director post is Shalonda Simoneaux, who oversaw high schools.

Roberts is heading to become principal at Broadmoor Elementary and Simoneaux is doing the same at Southeast Middle. Both have previous prior experience as principals, Roberts at Audubon Elementary and Simoneaux at Broadmoor High.

In his June 5 announcement, Narcisse also said Jessica Brister and fellow executive director Twana Hilton-Pitre would be shifting to principal jobs at Wedgewood and Twin Oaks elementaries. Then, in his July 1 announcement, Narcisse went in a different direction, saying Charlotte Williams and Terrie Junda would be principals of those schools instead. Both Williams and Junda were previously assistant principals at Twin Oaks and Wildwood elementaries.

It’s unclear why Brister and Hilton-Pitre did not take those principal positions. Brister was still listed on the district payroll at the end of June but Hilton-Pitre was not, meaning she was no longer employed with the school system.

Here are other notable personnel changes announced in the past month:

  • Stephanie Dixon, principal at EBR Virtual Academy, previously that school’s assistant principal.
  • Nicole Johnson, principal of Audubon Elementary, previously assistant principal at Park Elementary.
  • Ariane St. Julien, principal of Dufrocq elementary, previously assistant principal at Buchanan Elementary.
  • James Smith, coordinator of Graduation Excellence, previously principal of Brookstown Middle, which was closed in May.
  • Sharon Thomas, principal of Highland Elementary, previously assistant principal at Jefferson Terrace Academy.
  • Terri Wallis, principal of Bernard Terrace Elementary, previously magnet site coordinator at Villa del Rey Elementary.

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