Some 28,000 Midlands students officially have a new man running their schools.
This month, Baron Davis took the “elect” off his title as Richland 2 superintendent, replacing retiring Debbie Hamm and becoming the first African-American to oversee the Midlands’ largest school district.
Davis, 45, will earn $186,312 a year and has a three-year contract, district spokeswoman Libby Roof said.
Already one of the state’s largest districts, and traditionally one of its top performing, Richland 2 has undergone years of rapid growth and shifting demographics. It has become home to more impoverished as well as more minority students.
Davis, who was unavailable for an interview Tuesday or Wednesday, recently presented the school board a revamped strategic plan for the district focusing on diversity and inclusion, innovation and data, and community partnerships and communication.
When he was announced a year ago as Hamm’s successor, Davis indicated he planned to make few noticeable changes, hoping for a “seamless” transition, he said at the time.
Challenges facing the district include the rise of the outspoken Richland 2 Black Parents Association, concerns about inconsistent student discipline practices, and a nationally reported incident at Spring Valley High School involving a female student being forcibly removed from her desk by a school resource officer.
District leaders have taken steps in recent years to re-examine discipline policies and the role of law enforcement officers in schools.
Speaking to the school board last month, Davis said district leadership wouldn’t be dictating to individual schools how they must go about achieving their strategic goals.
“The needs of every school vary,” Davis said. “One way to think outside the box is to simply don’t get in it.”
About Baron Davis
Education: Francis Marion University (bachelor’s in sociology) and the University of South Carolina (master’s in school counseling and educational administration, educational specialist and doctor of philosophy in educational counseling)
Experience: Assistant principal and principal at schools in Richland 1, Richland 2 and Orangeburg County. Assistant superintendent for Richland 2 from 2014-2016.
Family: Wife, Pamela, and three daughters who attend school in Richland 2