Education

Expect continuity, not overhaul, from Richland 2’s new schools chief

Baron Davis, Richland School District 2 superintendent-elect.
Baron Davis, Richland School District 2 superintendent-elect. gmelendez@thestate.com

Debbie Hamm’s track record has left Richland 2 leaders so content with the school district’s direction that apparently there was almost no question that they would look within her support staff for her replacement.

“The board very clearly knew the direction that we wanted to go quickly,” school board chairman James Manning said Wednesday, explaining the board’s fast selection of assistant superintendent Baron Davis as the district’s superintendent-elect. The board made the decision Tuesday, just more than a week after Hamm announced she would retire in 2017.

Hiring from within a district’s current leadership is not unheard of but is “really rare” in school districts, Hamm said. In recent years, Richland and Lexington county school districts have taken both internal and external hiring paths for new superintendents.

The upside of choosing from within, Davis said, is that he understands the culture of the district and isn’t coming in with grand plans to make sweeping changes. Davis will progressively take on more of Hamm’s responsibilities.

“It’s my hope that the transition will be seamless ... (and) that there’s no noticeable change in the way we conduct business,” Davis said.

Manning and Hamm said the district plans to continue its culture of succession-planning for leadership at both the school and district levels.

Meet Baron Davis

Hamm described her successor as a gifted speaker with a good sense of humor who relates well to students. Davis indicated Wednesday, a day after his announcement as the district’s superintendent-elect, that he has no grand vision to change the district’s trajectory. He offered no specific proposals.

Here are the new superintendent’s thoughts on:

Diversity and inclusion

“We’re diverse by default, just because we’re all different. But it’s the practice of inclusion that we’re looking for. I think that could be an area where we’ll continue to improve.”

Suspensions and expulsions

“We’re going to continue to address that by developing things like a uniform discipline matrix that will help our administrators be better at being consistent in the application of their practices ... as well as including more support services for our students who may have some challenges when it comes to behavior so that we can keep them in school and reduce the number of suspensions.”

Sustaining success

“We have been very fortunate in the past to establish a climate and culture of excellence for a number of years. ... and (I) have some insights and relationships to make the necessary adjustments ... to sustain and move the district forward.”

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Meet Baron Davis

Retiring Richland 2 superintendent Debbie Hamm described her successor as a gifted speaker with a good sense of humor who relates well to students. Davis indicated Wednesday, a day after his announcement as the district’s superintendent-elect, that he has no grand vision to change the district’s trajectory. He offered no specific proposals.

Here are the new superintendent’s thoughts on:

Diversity and inclusion

“We’re diverse by default, just because we’re all different. But it’s the practice of inclusion that we’re looking for. I think that could be an area where we’ll continue to improve.”

Suspensions and expulsions

“We’re going to continue to address that by developing things like a uniform discipline matrix that will help our administrators be better at being consistent in the application of their practices ... as well as including more support services for our students who may have some challenges when it comes to behavior so that we can keep them in school and reduce the number of suspensions.”

Sustaining success

“We have been very fortunate in the past to establish a climate and culture of excellence for a number of years. ... and (I) have some insights and relationships to make the necessary adjustments ... to sustain and move the district forward.”

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