Newly appointed Farmington Public Schools trustee Dr. Shaun Black said during his Thursday interview that he’s seen “the entire spectrum of education” over his 18-year career.
The current Deputy Executive Director of Schools for the Detroit Public Schools Community District will take his oath of office on January 15. He has worked as a teacher, coach, interim administrator, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent, and as a consultant.
Trustee Angie Smith commented on Black’s experience, which also includes the Michigan Leadership Institute’s Superintendent Academy.
“It makes me wonder why you wouldn’t put your hat in when we do put in for our superintendent search,” she said.
Current superintendent Dr. George Heitsch will retire on July 1. Coincidentally, Black “shadowed” Heitsch several years ago, as part of his training. He told Smith he made a commitment with his current employer to not seek a superintendent position for three years.
“There’s no real hidden agenda,” said Black, who purchased his first home in Farmington Hills in 2017. “I told myself when I put roots into the community, I’m going to apply to be on the school board when I’m there.”
Trustee Jessica Cummings asked what insight he could bring to Farmington Schools’ achievement gap among African-American students. Black said he has experience in that area, but his responsibility as a board member would be to “make sure we’re asking the right questions of the administration.”
“Make sure we’re putting our money where we get the best results… not on the latest fads, but what’s research-proven to get results in improving achievement,” he said.
Trustee Terry Johnson asked Black how he would handle race issues as a board member. Both men are African American.
Black said with any issue, he would look at the district’s administrative guidelines. “I don’t believe you have race issues if you follow the administrative guidelines as they’re laid out.”
Board President Terri Weems asked about Black’s approach to hiring a superintendent. He said he learned some lessons while watching the Birmingham Public Schools process, which ended in December with the hiring of Troy’s deputy superintendent.
“I think in a school district in metro Detroit, in 2019, you have to have an individual who can inspire people, who can do the work, and has proven results,” he said. “I want someone with a proven ability to move the needle.”