After a six-month search for a new district leader, the Durham Public Schools Board of Education unanimously voted to hire Bert L’Homme as its new superintendent.
A former DPS administrator, L’Homme will succeed Eric Becoats Jr., who resigned last year after the board voted not to extend his contract when it expired in 2016. Becoats had been disciplined for credit card spending and using a school activity bus for personal use.
L’Homme’s contract, worth $225,000 a year, begins July 14 and runs through June 30, 2018. He was not at Thursday’s school board meeting.
L’Homme has a doctorate in special education and public school administration from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in education in K-12 special education and emotional disturbance from American University, and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and psychology and history from the University of Maryland.
“The board felt Dr. L’Homme had the experiences, training and passion that make him particularly well-suited for Durham Public Schools,” board Chairwoman Heidi Carter said. “We’re very excited he is going to be our next superintendent.”
L’Homme has been a special education teacher, a principal at New Hope Elementary School in Orange County and assistant superintendent of Instructional Services for Durham Public Schools. He also served as superintendent of Franklin County Schools.
His last stint was superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Washington, as well as interim chief operating officer, director of education policy and coordinator of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline Campaign for Marion Wright Edelman and the Children’s Defense Fund.
“For more than 35 years, Dr. L’Homme has been a constant champion for children, with a special focus on our most troubled youth,” Carter said in a statement. “Dr. L’Homme has a reputation for integrity and trustworthiness that cannot be overstated. He brings expertise with curriculum and instruction and proven success with early literacy initiatives.”
The Durham Public Schools district has 33,400 students in 56 schools and faces increasing challenges from private and charter schools.
Carter said L’Homme’s experience will enable him to hit the ground running.
“He already calls Durham his home, and he has a personal commitment to providing our school system with leadership to build on our many past success, current promising initiatives, and future innovations to chart a course to the next level of excellence in Durham Public Schools.” she said. “We look forward to introducing him in July.”