District Brings in Final Superintendent Candidates

Jermall Wright 

Monday April 18, Jermall Wright energetically walked around the school’s library, greeting students from Central, Parkview, and Hall High. Wright has a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate in Education and Administration. As superintendent of the lowest performing school districts in Mississippi, Wright improved student performance and the graduation rate by nearly 10%.

Instead of introducing himself with his accolades, Wright shared his shock when his teenage daughter told him she didn’t want to attend college and instead, because she made $16,000 through social media content, wanted to independently pursue media. His daughter’s desire for a non-traditional future is what inspired Wright to implement programs and resources that support different paths. 

“Learning does not have to take place within the four walls of school, we need to make sure our students get more experiences outside the traditional classroom,” he said.

Wright emphasizes teamwork in all he does. 

“I want the student voice front and center on how I lead and on how the board makes decisions,” he said. 

In his schools in Mississippi, Wright relied on his own Superintendent’s Student Advisory Board, which consisted of diverse students who shared their opinions on school activities. 

He emphasized this when juniors Erica Gourley and Kennedy Carpenter asked about campus safety; recalling the shooting threats that happened earlier this year, they were concerned that visitors could easily enter the school and that the multiple entrances weren’t always guarded. 

“In my old school, we each had key badges that kept us safe, but to make LRSD safer I would first speak to the onsite security, then the students, and then come up with a plan that prioritizes them,” he said. 


Eric Thomas 

Wednesday April 20, Eric Thomas, candidate for district superintendent, visited campus to introduce himself and his goals to students and the public. 

“We are in a life saving business,” he said. 

Thomas is a University of Virginia graduate who grew up in Atlanta and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to serve as an assistant to the superintendent. He managed more than 50 schools and established programs to help bring the grade average from an F to a B. Thomas has new ideas to bring to school discipline, marketing, and more.  

One of the biggest things Thomas is advocating for is returning to restorative discipline. 

“I look at student safety as a part of school culture, we need a culture in which people respect each other and that there are proactive approaches to building that respect,” he said. 

What this means for students is that instead of suspension and expulsion, students involved in conflict would see the counselor and reach a compromise then return to class. This would be a change to the current disciplinary system in place known as exclusionary discipline.

Thomas also wants to put some effort into marketing the school as superintendent to try and gain back the 10% of students who left the district in the past decade. 

“We have some students here that would argue that violence is the biggest challenge,” he said. “There’s another group who have chosen to leave the district, so there are some number of people who seem to think that we need to increase the number of students in our schools. It’s about marketing the district and growing the district.” 

To some questions, one in particular about including students in decision-making discourse, he deferred. 

“I’m a firm believer that even in that question, I would not want to answer by myself. I don’t think I know the district well enough yet.”


Join the Special Board Meeting and Public Comment Forum on Tuesday, April 26 at 5:30 pm here: