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BY: Casey Weldon | Cincinnati

CINCINNATI – After a months-long search, Cincinnati Public Schools has a new superintendent.

What You Need To Know

  • Iranetta Wright will become the 28th superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools
  • She currently serves as deputy superintendent of schools for the Detroit Public Schools Community District
  • Interim Superintendent Tianay Amat, a finalist for the job, has been in the role since June
  • Wright should start by May 1

​On Monday night, the Cincinnati Board of Education selected Iranetta Wright to become the 28th superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS). Wright will come to Cincinnati from Michigan, where she currently serves as deputy superintendent of schools for the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

Wright was one of three finalists for the position. Another was interim Superintendent Tianay Amat, who has served in the role for the last eight months.

President Ben Lindy said simply that the school board believes it has “chosen the best candidate” for the job. He went on to call Wright someone who is “committed to transformative, positive change for our students, community and staff.”

“Choosing a new superintendent is one of the most important roles of a board of education,” he added. “We are extremely grateful for the input of the community, parents, students and staff, as well as the hard work of our executive search firm, Alma Advisory Group.”

Iranetta Wright will become the 28th superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools history.

Lindy said during the meeting that Wright would take over her new role by May 1.

In Detroit, Wright helped guide a district with 53,000 students and 7,200 employees. Cincinnati has just under 36,000 students but is the largest public school system in Southwest Ohio.

A Florida native, Wright previously served Duval County Public Schools in her home state for more than 25 years. She worked as a teacher, assistant principal, middle and high school principal, regional superintendent, and ultimately in the role of chief of schools serving 117,000 students and 13,000 employees.

Wright has been recognized as a City Year Champion of Education, United Negro College Fund Innovator in Education, a Woman of Excellence by the Michigan Chronicle and Chiefs for Change Future Chief, according to CPS.

“I thank the Board for their decision and belief in my ability to lead our District to the next level as we make Cincinnati Public Schools the public school choice for children and families of our city,” Wright said in a statement. “I am also appreciative of the community support as we embark on this journey. I’m looking forward to leading this district. We’re going to hit the ground running to learn, grow and develop together. Let’s get to work.”

The search for a new superintendent started May 24 of last year when Laura Mitchell resigned from the position after spending 27 years with the district. Amat took over the job on an interim basis June 12.

At the time of Amat’s appointment, members of the Board of Education decided to conduct a “strategic and transparent national search for the district’s next superintendent.” That board promised to factor in community input. The district also retained the services of Alma Advisory Group, a talent management firm that works with school systems to address issues like workforce diversity, hiring decisions and professional development.

A little more than a month ago, on Jan. 27, the CPS Board of Education held a press conference to announce it had whittled the field down to its top three candidates. The third candidate was Marlon Styles, the superintendent of the Middletown City School District.

As part of the selection process, the Board of Education collected community input for the final interviews. Members of the CPS community, including staff, students, parents, partners and community members were invited to nominate themselves or someone else to participate in interview panels that took place Feb. 10.

CPS posted the candidates bios on its website and also prepared candidate videos.

As part of a release from the school, former Board Members Pam Bowers and Melanie Bates, both of whom were part of the board at the time the search began last summer, shared a joint statement on Wright’s selection.

“It has been a pleasure to be able to meet the candidates, especially our three finalists, and we strongly support Ms. Wright as our next superintendent,” the statement reads in part. “We believe she has the right experience and skills to lead CPS through our next exciting chapter.”

CPS did not indicate what plans are for Amat, whose previous role under Mitchell was deputy superintendent.

During her tenure, Amat met her fair share of challenges including the ongoing battle with the pandemic.

After successfully navigating in-person learning for the start of the school year, the district ran into staffing challenges this winter. On Jan. 11, the Board of Education voted, 6-1, to return to remote learning for a period of seven school days after an uptick in employee absences. CPS relied on volunteers and temporary employees to cover lunch shifts and school bus drivers to fill in for non-teacher positions, like security guards and paraprofessionals.

CPS was also embroiled in a sometimes heated back-and-forth with the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) over changes to bussing options for some students.

Prior to her administrative roles with CPS, Amat taught at Rockdale Academy and served as principal of Hyde Park School, both district schools. She has also worked in administrative positions in the Lakota and Princeton school districts and was a public school teacher in New York City.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to lead our incredible district for the last eight months. I welcome Ms. Wright to CPS and look forward to ensuring a smooth transition,” Amat said in the statement from the school district.