Salt Lake City announces new superintendent

In a break with previous transparency, the school board members interviewed the candidates privately and did not invite the public to meet the finalists.

(Screenshot) Members of the Salt Lake City School Board announce the hiring of a new principal.

In contrast to his transparency on previous superintendent searches, the Salt Lake City School Board announced Dr. Elizabeth Grant as her next superintendent without disclosing the strongest candidates or allowing the public to meet with them.

Grant, who attended schools in the Salt Lake City School District and served as principal of two of the district’s elementary schools, was most recently an associate professor of education at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

In brief remarks during a brief board meeting Thursday when her selection was announced, she called the district a “gem” and said she looks forward to returning.

The district’s two previous superintendents each resigned amid controversy with the board – Timothy Gadson III in October and Lexi Cunningham in 2020. Both Cunningham and Gadson were initially announced as finalists. Both searches invited parents and others to meet three finalists on community forums and school board members conducted public interviews.

In contrast, Grant’s candidacy with her was kept secret from the public Name was announced at the board meeting just prior to the signing of a deal beginning July 1st.

An update posted on the district’s website on April 13 said the new superintendent job ad closed in March after “16 highly qualified candidates” were drawn. That was the latest information released Thursday afternoon.

KUTV Ch. 2 reported Thursday that the board had interviewed no fewer than eight candidates for the position.

As the fourth superintendent of the Salt Lake City school district since 2016, Grant inherits a district that faces likely boundary changes and school closures, with elementary school enrollment steadily declining. State auditors have slammed the board’s response to this trend, saying it’s too slow and needlessly costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

The district is also considering whether to rebuild two aging high schools, along with calls from the community to build a new high school on the west side of town.

It last year addressed months of controversy over Gadson’s job performance, including complaints that he allegedly created a toxic environment in the district. The board accepted Gadson’s resignation just over a year after taking office, stressing in a statement that “there was no wrongdoing by Dr. Gadson and neither by Dr. Gadson was found to have broken the law by the Salt Lake City School Board”.

Gadson succeeded Cunningham, who was allegedly forced out of her post amid a dispute with the board. A board member who defended her said she would have been fired had she not resigned.

The Salt Lake Tribune will update this developing story.

Justin Scaccy

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