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Infante-Green Names Harrison Peters as Turnaround Superintendent

PROVIDENCE, R.I. –Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green today introduced Harrison Peters as the Turnaround Superintendent for the Providence Public School District (PPSD), along with two new leaders who will be joining him in the turnaround effort.

Peters brings more than two decades of experience as an educator to Providence, having served as a classroom teacher and a school principal before taking on senior leadership roles in three of the 10 largest school districts in the country.Along with Peters, Infante-Green welcomed two additional members of the PPSD turnaround team: Nick Figueroa as Chief of Family and Community Engagement, and Dr. Barbara Mullen as Chief Equity Officer.

“Harrison Peters is committed to educational equity and opportunity for all students, and I have confidence that, working closely with the Commissioner and the community, he can deliver results for Providence students and families,”said Governor Gina M. Raimondo.“This is a strong team, and it is the right team to help lead Providence schools at this critical moment.”

“We know that the Providence school system is broken; the data is undeniable. But every week, as I meet with students, talk to teachers, and visit our schools, I gain a deeper understanding of the significant and complex challenges we face,” said Infante-Green.“Harrison gets it. He brings expertise, passion, and humility to this work, and I can’t wait to work with him and the rest of the team to continue this journey we’ve started and create meaningful, lasting change for generations of students to come.”

“We have come a long way in just six months. With Commissioner Infante-Green at the helm, we have engaged the community, navigated the process to make state intervention possible, and taken important steps to improve schools. Today’s announcement is another step forward,” said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Board of Education. “Harrison Peters has a wealth of knowledge, experience, and commitment when it comes to challenging and supporting students and empowering educators to do the same.On behalf of the Board, I look forward to working with Harrison and the rest of this team.”

Peters is a veteran of the United States Navy and has worked at all levels of education. He is a former elementary school teacher, a middle and high school principal, and a senior leader in such large, diverse school districts as Chicago Public Schools and the Houston Independent School District. Most recently, Peters served as the Deputy Superintendent and Chief of Schools for Hillsborough County, a public school district in the greater Tampa area that serves more than 206,000 students.Like Commissioner Infante-Green, he is also a member of the Chiefs for Change Future Chiefs program.

In Hillsborough, Peters oversees 250 schools and manages such offices as Family and Community Engagement, Leadership Development and Professional Development, and the Student Planning and Placement and Support Programs.During his tenure, Hillsborough saw 10 percentage point increase in the graduation rate, and narrowed the graduation rate gap by 50 percent for black and Latinx studentsHe also expanded advanced coursework and increased the percentage of students earning industry credentials and certifications.

I understand what it’s like to be both a student and an educator in a struggling school system. Education made all the difference for my life, and I am committed to making that same difference for the students of Providence,” said Peters. “We have an incredible opportunity before us, and I do not intend to squander it. I will work diligently alongside Providence students, families, educators, and community leaders to transform this school district.I’m excited to get to work.”

Figueroa’s and Mullen’s positions are new additions to the PPSD organizational chart, sending a clear signal that family engagement and equity are key priorities for the district and the state. Before joining the PPSD team, Figueroa was serving as the Executive Director of College Visions, a college-access non-profit that serves low-income and first-generation college students. Mullen is currently the Director of the Learning Leader Network at the Center for Leadership and Educational Equity (CLEE). She is an expert on support for differently abled students,cultural competency,and instructional and system equity and has worked in such large urban district systems as Chicago, Seattle, and Houston.

Peters will start full-time at PPSD on February 20Dottie Smith, who currently serves as Interim Superintendent, will assume a role as Senior Adviser to the Superintendent at PPSD once Peters comes on board.

“This is an exciting moment for Providence schools,” said Smith. “I am honored to work every day with individuals who are dedicated to this work and who care deeply about the students of Providence. We know a lot needs to be done to deliver on our promises, and we are eager to welcome our new colleagues so we can work together to make it happen.”