SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Springfield Public Schools began the process of welcoming their next superintendent on Thursday night.
Dr. Grenita Lathan will officially assume this role next week, July 1. She comes to Springfield Public Schools with 30 years of educational experience.
At Thursday’s meeting, Lathan was keen to interact and engage with parents as she answered their questions. Lathan said his interactive approach will be no different from his approach to the district as a whole.
She told families that her first priority was to get to know the district, from teachers to bus drivers and students.
“It’s important to build relationships, and in order to build relationships, I need to get to know the people I work with,” Lathan said. “And to get to know them, I need to go out. I need to go out and meet bus drivers, meet our guards, and meet our teachers, meet our principals. But also to meet parents and members of the community. I need to know what is working in the district, as well as the areas where we need to improve.
As the district superintendent, she said her role mostly comes down to providing support.
“Our job as central office administrators, mine as superintendent and my entire team, our job is to provide the resources and support necessary for our teachers and principals to be successful,” said Lathan.
Lathan brought up several topics on the minds of many in the district. This included the widely debated use of critical race theory, which is not part of the district curriculum.
“It’s important to talk about history. There is a way to do this. But it’s important to respect individual differences and that’s the kind of conversation we should be having as a school district and also as a community, ”said Lathan. “Ensuring that when every child walks into our school buildings, they feel successful, that they feel they are going to have a fair opportunity. We need to make sure we’re having the necessary conversations that we need to have. “
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Springfield, just months away from school, Lathan also discussed the district’s response.
“As one of my first meetings, I was meeting today with the health department just to discuss concerns about the growing number of cases we are now experiencing here in Springfield, but being prepared and ready to open our schools for our students August. We will continue to review and revisit our plan to reopen which deals with COVID, ”Lathan said.
His decades of career have not been without examination.
In 2012, accusations of poor leadership surfaced in the district she led in Illinois. A few years later, the board considered terminating her contract or putting her on leave due to an elementary school fraud scandal involving other staff.
Other questions about his abilities have been raised in Texas. The state education agency released a report on the Houston Independent School District’s problems with their special education services.
District officials said they were no doubt confident in his abilities. Lathan said she believes there are always opportunities to learn and grow.
“There is this perception of some people that all of these things have to change,” she said. “There is a perception from others that this is not the case. It is therefore about getting to know the community. Like I said, looking at the data, analyzing and looking at what is working and where we need to improve. But first of all it is important to know the community, to know the school district.
The next meeting will take place on June 28.
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