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Rochester school board begins search for interim superintendent

Isaiah Santiago is a Rochester Board of Education commissioner.
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Rochester City School District
Isaiah Santiago is a Rochester Board of Education commissioner.

The Rochester Board of Education is expediting a search for a new interim superintendent at the Rochester City School District.

The school board has two weeks to select a candidate to fill the temporary position. Interviews with candidates for the interim position will begin next week.

“Because the superintendent is his last day is June 30, it is important that we bring someone on as quickly as we possibly can,” said board President Cynthia Elliott.

The board deliberations this week were tangled up in disagreements over an exact approach among all six board members in attendance. Vice president Beatriz LeBron was not present for the meeting.

Elliott’s initial vision is to find someone with experience working in an urban setting who is not currently working for the district.

Camine Peluso has served as RCSD superintendent since September 2022.

However, she was met with dissent from various school board members, including one of the newest board members, Isaiah Santiago.

Santiago said given major shifts in the district on the horizon, the school board should take a different approach than Elliott’s proposal

“There might be good candidates who are either retired from the district or currently still working in the district, who may be really good candidates as we speak about the reconfiguration plan that's coming up, and the board goals and a lot of the other plans that's in place,” Santiago said. “So that’s my only concern.”

The school board struggled to find common ground over best way to gather community input and whether to put limits on who can apply for the position.

“We cannot afford to go down this rabbit hole that we're going down right now," Camille Simmons said. “We need to make a decision, and if that's one form, then we do one form. But we need to be tight and write and get this going.”

In the end, they voted to keep the eligibility requirements limited to external candidates outside of the district, with preference for candidates with urban experience locally or within New York state.

They also agreed to hold a public forum attached to a school board meeting and allow for email comments from the public ahead of a fast-approaching deadline to make a final decision.

The next scheduled meeting is with the finance committee, which LeBron chairs, on April 22.

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.