The Seattle School Board voted Wednesday to begin negotiating a contract with Brent Jones, its nominee for interim superintendent.
If negotiations are successful, and the board approves a contract, Jones would take over the helm of the district from Denise Juneau when her contract expires, starting no later than July 1. He would serve for no longer than one year, and would not be a candidate for a permanent replacement.
The motion passed with four yes votes, one no vote, and one abstention at a board meeting Wednesday evening.
Jones, a former district administrator, has worked for Seattle Public Schools on and off since 2008. Most recently, he directed the district’s equity initiatives, and was a formative voice in the district’s work to improve education for African American male students. He left the district in 2019 to work for King County Metro Transit.
“We know it will be a challenging year. And this job is one of the toughest in the city,” Jones said. “It has been an honor to be called to serve. And even though it’s only for a season, you can guarantee I will give 100%.”
If his contract is approved, he said, he will continue the work begun on the district’s strategic plan, which promises to improve outcomes for students of color and African American male students. He would also focus on building mental health supports, food security and other services vital to the pandemic.
Chandra Hampson, who introduced the resolution last night, said having an interim superintendent in place would allow the board to later conduct a full search for a long-term replacement with input from the public. Jones came to mind as an interim candidate because of his commitment and experience with racial equity work, she said.
The board is also under a legal deadline to conduct a separate search process to fill a vacant seat after board member Eden Mack resigned this month.
Board members Lisa Rivera-Smith, who abstained, and Leslie Harris, who voted against the motion, said they would have preferred more community involvement in choosing an interim candidate.