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Durham Public Schools taps new superintendent

The Durham Public Schools Board of Education unanimously voted on Saturday to appoint  Anthony S. Lewis as the district’s next superintendent. 

“I am elated to be selected as the next Superintendent of Durham Public Schools,” Lewis said in a statement. “While many great things are happening in this district, I am ready to work to continue and accelerate those successes. The community also recognizes some challenges remain that we must and will address directly.” 

Former DPS Superintendent Pascal Mubenga resigned in February following a pay dispute that affected more than 1,000 classified workers and threw the school system into chaos, causing days of protests and school closures. Since Mugenga’s resignation, Catty Moore, former superintendent of the Wake County Public School System, has been serving as interim superintendent. 

Lewis was selected from a pool of over 100 applicants which were narrowed down to four finalists. 

“We took extra measures to ensure that the characteristics of our next Superintendent were chosen by the people they would serve….Dr. Lewis’s proven track record and experience met the high standards we and the community hold for this district’s performance,” said Bettina Umstead, the outgoing chair of the school board.

Lewis has been a high school special education teacher and elementary school principal, and most recently served for six years as the superintendent of Lawrence Public Schools in Lawrence, Kansas. While there, his efforts focused heavily on increasing equity and reducing the racial achievement gap between white and Black students. 

Lewis was appointed in 2019 by Kansas Governor Laura Kelley to the Kansas African American Affairs Commission and in 2020 to the Commission on Racial Equity and Justice, which considers relations between law enforcement and the community.

“Our goal will be to create an environment where every student not only develops a love for learning and intellectual curiosity but also envisions a future filled with incredible and limitless opportunities,” Lewis said. “This ultimately ensures that Durham Public Schools is the premiere school district in the country.”

Lewis’ term will commence in August of this year and run through June 2028. 

In addition to a new superintendent, the school system will start the year with new board leadership. On Monday, Millicent Rogers was voted chairwoman of the board, replacing Bettina Umstead, and Jessica Carda-Auten was chosen as vice-chair, replacing Emily Chavez. Wendell Tabb and Joy Harrell-Goff, who were elected to the board in March, were also sworn in as new members. 

The changes occur as the new school year is poised to begin. For local public schools on the year-round calendar, classes begin on July 22. Schools that follow the traditional calendar start back on Aug. 26.