Florida administrator selected to lead Providence schools

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A top administrator at a large school district in Florida has been selected to lead Providence, Rhode Island's troubled public school system, a state education official confirmed.

Harrison Peters, listed as chief of schools-administration for the Hillsborough County Public Schools, will be introduced as Providence's new superintendent at an event Monday, Megan Geoghegan, a spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Department of Education confirmed in an email Saturday.

Peters' selection was first reported by The Boston Globe on Friday.

The Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, in a scathing 93-page report released in June, called the Providence school system among the nation's worst. It found severe dysfunction, including rampant bullying and fighting among students, poor student achievement rates, crumbling facilities, and a tangled bureaucracy with no clear lines of authority.

The report prompted the state to take over the system and launch a turnaround effort.

Frances Gallo, a veteran Rhode Island educator, came out of retirement to serve as interim superintendent, but under state retirement regulations was limited to 90 days in the role. She stepped down this month.

The public school system in Hillsborough County, which includes the city of Tampa, has more than 220,000 students in about 230 schools, according to the district website. Providence has about 24,000 students in 41 schools.

The new superintendent, working with state Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green, will have sweeping authority to change everything from revamping teachers' contracts to the length of the school day.

Peters holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of West Florida, a master’s degree in education leadership from Nova Southeastern University, and a specialist’s degree in school transformation from the University of South Florida, according to his LinkedIn page.