This week brought the sad news that Superintendent Leslie Brown's declining health has forced her to resign. Our thoughts are with her and her family as they navigate what must be an incredibly challenging time. We were eager to see the East Baton Rouge district progress under her passionate and determined leadership.

This vacancy means a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to the future of Baton Rouge schools. Who will step in to ensure that remote and in-person learning is delivered with quality, address achievement gaps widened during the pandemic and manage what is likely to be a large budget deficit? These are just a few of the pressing issues that will have far-reaching impacts if not addressed timely with practical, sustainable and equitable solutions.

Given these difficulties, we can’t afford to start from the beginning with another year-long search. In December 2018, Warren Drake announced his plans to retire when his contract ended. Unfortunately, since that time, the district has been without a shared vision for how to approach the challenges and opportunities ahead.

The last search process yielded a talented pool of candidates, several of whom could do the job. We urge the board to consider offering the job to one of the other applicants identified in the process, instead of beginning the search anew. There is absolutely no benefit in adding more uncertainty for students, families, educators and other system employees than what already exists.

Everyone should agree that we need a full-time, talented, equity-minded district leader in place for what is likely to be one of the most challenging school years in a generation.

DEVIN WRIGHT

president, South Louisiana Coalition for Education

Baton Rouge