5 GRPS superintendent finalists meet with board

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Public School board members met their five finalists for the superintendent vacancy left open since last June when Teresa Weatherall Neal retired.

The board’s finalists — Erick Pruitt, Leadriane Roby, Darrin Slade, Yvonne Stokes and Harold Brian Yearwood — were narrowed down from a list of 39 applicants from across the country. 

The school board was down to two finalists in a search last year but decided to explore more options. Members believe one of their final five this go-around will be the next superintendent of GRPS.

All five finalists are African American. Their background stretches across the country with a wide array of experience and expertise.

“Our board certainly had an eye toward equity and inclusion, looking for individuals who reflect the student body that we serve,” said GRPS spokesperson John Helmholdt. “Seventy percent of our students are minorities. Certainly, that’s a sensitive point our board is looking for and we were fortunate to find five individuals all of whom have great resumes and are highly qualified.”

Helmholdt says the decision ahead of the board could be one of major importance not only for the school but the region as a whole.

“If you think about the major role we play in economic development, workforce development and quality of life, if we want Grand Rapids to be the best mid-size city in America, we need a strong stable flourishing public school system,” Helmholdt said. “That requires a leader, a superintendent that’s going to be able to take the GRPS transformation to success to the next level.”

The board will meet again at 4:30 p.m. Monday to determine candidates to go on for a second-round interview.

Finalists will be invited back Feb. 17, where a decision could be made later that evening.

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