Jeff Parish School Board Chooses New Superintendent

GRETNA, LA (AP) — The Jefferson Parish School Board has chosen Isaac Joseph as the system's next superintendent.

         Joseph currently is the system's executive director of grants and federal programs.

         The New Orleans Advocate’s Chad Calder reports that Joseph was approved by a 6-3 vote of the board Wednesday. He is a 29-year veteran of the Jefferson Parish system and will take over May 1.

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         The previous superintendent, James Meza, stepped down in January.

         Meza had been selected in 2011 by what was then a business-backed board majority. The board that selected Joseph now has more union-backed members as a result of last fall's elections.

         Joseph was nominated by Cedric Floyd, the board president, at a special meeting.

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         Voting for Joseph were Floyd, Ray St. Pierre, Mark Morgan, Ricky Johnson, Marion Bonura and Melinda Doucet. Voting against Johnson was the remaining business-based faction of the board: Larry Dale, Melinda Bourgeois and Sandy Denapolis-Bosarge.

         The swiftness of the decision was somewhat surprising, but Floyd said he didn't think going into executive session was necessary for the decision and put Joseph's name out first.

         "He's had just about every major job in the school system," Floyd said of Joseph, a former teacher, principal and administrator. "Nobody else had that experience, that temperament or skill set. I thought that he put himself above the other five candidates in terms of what the school system needed."

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         "This is a real opportunity for me," Joseph said. "This is a credit to all the people I've worked with, who have mentored me, coached me … It's just a very humbling experience."

         Joseph said he looks forward to taking on the challenges facing the school system. In the short term, he said, that's finding and hiring a chief academic officer, while long-term issues include addressing the achievement gap between black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian counterparts.

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