Politics & Government

New head of NC low-performing schools district named, but more DPI departures coming

Updated July 15

State schools Superintendent Mark Johnson has filled the top position in the program overseeing North Carolina’s low-performing schools, but he’s also dealing with more turnover in his leadership circle.

Johnson announced Thursday that James Ellerbe will be the new superintendent of the Innovative School District, a program in which low-performing schools are taken over by the state and then turned over to outside groups. He’s the third superintendent of the district in two years, after LaTeesa Allen left for reasons that have not been explained.

Ellerbe was most recently director of administration and strategy at the Center for Responsive Schools. He previously served at the state Department of Public Instruction in different roles, including interim director of district and regional support and as a district transformation coach.

One of Ellerbe’s jobs will be to find a new principal for Southside Ashpole Elementary School in Robeson County, the only school in the program.

Johnson also announced Thursday that Robert “Bo” Trumbo will become director of the Center for Safer Schools. Trumbo had been a U.S. Secret Service agent, including being in charge of the Raleigh office.

But the news come as the Public School Forum of North Carolina reported Thursday that DPI is losing Kevin Wilkinson as its legislative director and Jonathan Sink as its general counsel. The North Carolina Republican Party announced Friday that Sink would be its new executive director.

The department has lost several other key people in the past few months, including two deputy superintendents.

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.