UPDATE: Liggins named new Fayette schools superintendent

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UPDATE POSTED 12:10 P.M. JUNE 4, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Fayette County Board of Education has named Dr. Demetrus Liggins as the district’s new superintendent, replacing Manny Caulk, who died suddenly in December 2020.

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Contract negotiations are now under way.

The decision comes after a months-long search input from a variety of stakeholder groups and nine days of virtual and in-person interviews. Liggins was one of five finalists.

The board met for about 90 minutes Friday morning before announcing its decision.

“We were energized by the community engagement in this process. Overwhelmingly, we heard our community wanted someone who not only can connect with students, staff, and community partners, but also understands the value brought by these diverse perspectives,” said Board Chair Tyler Murphy. “Our board is enthusiastic to find a candidate whose skills and experiences align so well with the superintendent candidate profile.”

At the first press conference held in the new John D. Price Administration Building, Dr. Liggins said, “I am excited to get to work every day on behalf of staff, students, families, and the community, to make us a better place.”

Currently, Dr. Liggins serves as superintendent of schools in Greenville Independent School District (ISD), an urban district outside of Dallas, Texas.

Upon his arrival in 2016, the district had a “D” rating and was facing fiscal challenges. Since then, the district earned high ratings in academic and fiscal performance. The Texas Education Agency gave Greenville ISD a “B” overall, and a “Superior” rating for financial management.

Bilingual in English and Spanish, he initiated a citywide literacy program called Rally Round Reading, which offers all children ages birth to third grade high-quality online reading materials in both English and Spanish. He serves on the Texas Association of School Administrators’ Race, Equity, and Diversity committee.

Dr. Liggins values preparing students for both college and careers and has created a partnership with Texas A&M University-Commerce guaranteeing admission of all Greenville ISD graduates and free tuition for economically disadvantaged students.

In 2020, he was recognized as a “Superintendent to Watch” by the National School Public Relations Association.

Greenville’s Herald Banner, recently published an opinion piece with the headline, “Losing Liggins will be a setback.”

Feedback from the Fayette County public included positive comments such as, “He is the clear choice.” One student shared, “He is a great idea generator and has the best heart for students.”

He received his bachelor’s in education and master’s degree in English from California State University, Fresno and a Master of Education and superintendent certification from Stephen F. Austin State University. He received his Ph.D. in K-16 educational leadership and policy from University of Texas-Arlington.

Dr. Liggins will serve in the position previously held by Superintendent Manny Caulk, who passed away unexpectedly in December 2020. Caulk cared deeply about students and made positive impacts on teaching and learning in the district. Dr. Marlene Helm has served as interim superintendent since November.

“Dr. Helm’s guidance, wisdom, and leadership during a particularly challenging time for the district has been invaluable. Her steady leadership has benefited our students, staff, and families and will help make the next superintendent’s transition a success,” said Murphy.

Chair Murphy added, “We are grateful for the work of the screening committee–supported by the search firm Greenwood/Asher & Associates. We were impressed by the significant contributions all the candidates have made to student learning. The strength of the candidate pool made it a difficult decision for us and for the community.”

The goal is to have Dr. Liggins in place to start the 2021-2022 school year.

According to his bio, Liggins has served since 2016 as superintendent of schools in Greenville Independent School District, an urban district of 5,000 students outside of Dallas, Texas.

Previously, Dr. Liggins has been a bilingual/Spanish classroom teacher; an assistant principal; an elementary, middle, and high school principal; and an area superintendent of schools, in districts with as many as 35,000 students.

In his current role, Dr. Liggins has increased student outcomes at all levels, including minority and economically-disadvantaged students’ performance, led the creation of a 5-year strategic plan and graduate profile, and transitioned several traditional schools to schools of choice, which helped improve equity across the district. He was named an Inspiring Leader by the Texas Association of School Administrators and was among the first to complete the American Association of School Administrators National Superintendent Certification. He earned the Distinguished Leadership Award from Texas A&M University in Commerce, Texas.

Dr. Liggins received his bachelor’s in education and master’s degree in English from California State University, Fresno and a Master of Education and superintendent certification from Stephen F. Austin State University. He received his Ph.D. in K-16 educational leadership and policy from University of Texas-Arlington.
Find more information by visiting the board’s search page at fcps.net/search.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – In Lexington, the five finalists for Fayette County Schools superintendent met with people in the community in-person Wednesday night.

Andria Jackson, a mother of two students, said she couldn’t pass up the chance to meet the candidates in-person, especially after the past year.

“We need a compassionate and thoughtful leader,” Jackson said. “We have a lot of healing to do in our district, so I think the next person coming in just has to be engaged in several different areas so I know our board will do their best to choose that person.”

The five candidates were stationed in different areas of Frederick Douglass High School.

Joseph Edmonds is a rising senior. He was standing at the door making sure guests knew where to go and equipping them with brief bios of the finalists.

“It’s really educational for the students and I really think they’re doing a great job of letting everyone get involved,” Edmonds said.

He helped with the student interview process and was able to ask the candidates many of his pressing questions, but he said he’s glad there’s a face-to-face with the community.

“It’ll show their ability to respond under pressure and I really feel like that’s important,” Edmonds said.Carroll Gullett is the founder of “For Kids,” a non-profit that works with sixth graders on a social-emotional level.

She said she came for a specific reason.

“What I really want to know is how do these candidates feel about actually partnering with the community organizations with people who are really invested in our students,” Gullett said.

Shambra Mulder is the education chair for the Lexington chapter of the NAACP. She’s also a mother of two.

Mulder said the board has done a great job so far and she’s excited about the future.

“I’m going to stay engaged and hopefully they pick the superintendent like the one we had,” Mulder said.

All of the candidates were given a tour of Lexington.

The next step is the school board will review the community feedback, do in-person interviews, then discuss, deliberate, choose the top candidate, begin contract negotiations and have the new leader in place before the start of the school year in august.