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The Next Step on Providence Schools

Education Commissioner Sends Proposal for Decision and Order to City Leaders

PROVIDENCE, R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green today issued her Proposal for Decision and Order regarding the Providence Public School District (PPSD). The document details how the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) intends to take control of the district.

This action is the next step in the legal process as the Commissioner implements Crowley Act. The Proposal for Decision and Order was delivered to the Mayor, Interim Superintendent, and all members of the School Board and City Council. The primary element of the Proposal for Decision and Order reads as follows:

“The Commissioner shall exercise all the powers and authorities delegated by the Council [on Elementary and Secondary Education] to the Commissioner and all powers of RIDE over the budget, program and personnel of PPSD and over the school’s governance and facilities. The Commissioner shall also exercise all powers and authorities currently exercised by the Providence School Board and Superintendent (Acting, Interim or Permanent), as well as all powers and authorities currently exercised by the Mayor of Providence and the Providence City Council as it pertains to PPSD and its schools.”

“Last year’s RICAS results, the report of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, the voices of hundreds of community members at our nine (9) public forums, and extensive media coverage (local and national) have made it clear that PPSD is a fundamentally broken system and requires drastic intervention,” Commissioner Infante-Green wrote in her cover letter to the four parties. “This Proposal for Decision and Order is the next step in that process.”

Copies of the cover letter, Order to Show Cause, and Proposal for Decision and Order are available at www.ride.ri.gov/providence.

On July 23, the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education approved a resolution giving the Commissioner its authority to intervene in PPSD to reverse decades of poor student results. The parties have 30 days to request an opportunity to “show cause” why the Proposal for Decision and Order should not become the Final Decision and Order.

On September 13, 2019, Commissioner Infante-Green will convene an administrative hearing to review any evidence or testimony submitted by the parties. If the Proposal for Decision and Order becomes final, the Commissioner will appoint a State Turnaround Superintendent and/or other designees, who will work with the community to develop, build support for, and implement a Turnaround Plan for the district.

The bulk of the document is a Findings of Fact section that describes in detail how PPSD has historically failed to meet performance expectations and outlines how RIDE has worked with PPSD to help address system-wide challenges, with insufficient, if any, improvement in student outcomes. The lack of improvement, despite these supports, far exceed the Crowley Act’s requirement of three years of progressive intervention and support.

“I look forward to your continued collaboration and engagement in this effort,” Commissioner Infante-Green wrote in her cover letter. “The community has embraced our efforts to call attention to the broken system, and we must all continue to come together to ensure that the community remains engaged in its transformation. It will take all stakeholders, working collaboratively for years, to turn PPSD into a model for the state and the entire nation.”