Who will be the next Baker school superintendent? The board votes Tuesday. Here’s how to watch. | Education | #students | #parents

The Baker City School Board on Tuesday is set to choose from among three finalists the person it wants to lead the small suburban Baton Rouge school district, with the current interim superintendent facing off against two veteran educators from the Capital region.

The board is meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the board office at 14750 Plank Road. The meeting will also be broadcast live on YouTube.

The Baker City School Board on Saturday is interviewing three finalists, including its current interim superintendent, before picking the next…

The board interviewed the three finalists during a special Saturday meeting held on April 24.

De’Ette Perry, interim Baker superintendent since Jan. 1, is the best known candidate internally. Also interviewed were Tamara Johnson, a Central Office administrator for the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, and Calvin Nicholas, former principal of East Iberville Elementary and High School in Plaquemine.

The board named the three finalists in March from a pool of eight applicants seeking to run the school district of more than 1,100 students. The last superintendent, Herman Brister Sr., abruptly resigned in September after five years at the helm.

The search was led by Michael Faulk, a former superintendent himself and the executive director of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents.

Interim Superintendent Perry has been with Baker since it broke away from the East Baton Rouge Parish school system in summer 2003. She started as principal of Baker Heights Elementary and has held a succession of Central Office jobs in Baker, most recently as the district’s K-12 instructional supervisor.

Perry has 31 years of experience in education, starting with 11 years as a classroom teacher in Baton Rouge. She has a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

She has focused on her deep experience in Baker, serving under at least five superintendents.

“I know I can provide the kind of leadership that will foster unity, pride and success in the City of Baker school system,” Perry said in her application.

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During her 21 years in education, Johnson has worked in Zachary and for the Louisiana Department of Education. She has spent the past five years as an executive director for school leadership in the East Baton Rouge district, leading an overhaul of the district’s alternative schools. She got her start in 1999 as a schoolteacher in Baton Rouge. She has a master’s degree in education from Southern University in Baton Rouge.

In her interview, Johnson said her first job in education was as a day-to-day substitute teacher who got noticed and received help to become a full-time educator. She said if made superintendent, she would look for people who have success in previous jobs even if it was in a different area, people who “come to work and are willing to go over and beyond the call of duty to educate.”

“We need to make sure we have people who are dedicated,” Johnson said. “We can provide the training. We are educators.”

Nicholas has worked in Baker before, serving as assistant principal of Baker High from 2013 to 2015. From 2015 until he submitted his retirement notice last October, Nicholas had been principal at the high school in East Iberville.

A former football star, Nicholas has had a 31-year career in education. He earned a doctorate in education in 2013 from the now-shuttered Argosy University, a national, for-profit school.

He made news in September 2015 when he was fired from Scotlandville High, where he’d recently taken over as principal, for using a stick to break up a student fight. He later won a lawsuit for wrongful termination.

Nearly three years ago, East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Warren Drake fired former Scotlandville High School Principal Calvin Nicholas f…

Nicholas said that, for a school district like Baker, which does not pay as well as many other nearby districts, you need to find people who already love education.

“I’m looking for committed people. People who have been in education and love kids,” Nicholas said. “You have to love the job you’re doing. I don’t want to have to get you to shake a hand, or give a hug to a child.”

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