A Rhode Island education leader who is a finalist to lead Tennessee’s school turnaround district was in Memphis Wednesday to meet with community members.
Stephen Osborn is the chief for innovation and accelerating school performance at the Rhode Island Department of Education. He is among finalists to lead Tennessee’s Achievement School District.
A second finalist has not been chosen from among the four candidates revealed last week, according to Sara Gast, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Education.
She denied a report earlier Wednesday from Bobby White, chief of external affairs for the Achievement School District, that Osborn and Memphis education consultant Keith Sanders were the two finalists.
“I truly think we’re still having conversations about the other candidates,” Gast said.
White later walked back his comments. “She’s right. I was making an assumption. I apologize,” he told Chalkbeat in an email.
Before joining Rhode Island education leadership, Osborn was an assistant superintendent with the Louisiana Department of Education and a chief operating officer with New Beginnings Charter School Network in New Orleans.
He was visiting with Memphis community groups Wednesday with Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen, including a meet-and-greet in the city’s Frayser neighborhood, which is a hub of state-run district’s work.
Earlier this month, Gast said the state would narrow down the candidates list from four to two based on input from key district and community members in Memphis. “The final decision on who to hire will be jointly determined by the commissioner and the governor,” she told Chalkbeat.
Sanders is the CEO of his own consulting group in Memphis and is the former chief officer of school turnaround at the Delaware Department of Education. He was a principal at Riverview Middle School in Memphis before leaving in 2007 to co-found the Miller-McCoy Academy in New Orleans, an all-boys charter school that shuttered in 2014.
The two other candidates are Brett Barley, deputy superintendent for student achievement with the Nevada Department of Education, and Adam Miller, executive director of the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice at the Florida Department of Education.
All four have visited Memphis and met with key leaders, according to Gast.
The new superintendent will succeed Malika Anderson, who stepped down last fall after almost two years at the helm.
The job will require overseeing 30 low-performing schools — the majority of which are run by charter organizations in Memphis — at a time when the Achievement School District has much less authority than when it launched in 2012 during the Race to the Top era.