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Providence Superintendent Stepping Down

Thomas Brady, a retired Army colonel and graduate of the Broad Foundation-sponsored superintendents academy, said he will step down from his position at the helm of the 23,700-student Providence school district by summer.

Brady's did not give a reason for his departure, according to an account in The Providence Journal, which also printed an email from Brady to school personnel. He has been superintendent since March 2008.

Before he was hired in Providence, Brady served as the chief operating officer in the Philadelphia, District of Columbia, and Fairfax County, Va., schools. He graduated from the Broad Academy in 2004, and had signed a three-year contract with the Providence district in 2009.

Providence, a mayorally-controlled district since 1980, made the news earlier this year when city Mayor Angel Tavares sent pink slips to all 2,000 teachers, saying they could be released at the end of this school year. Tavares has also recommended closing four schools and eliminating up to 70 teaching positions. The city has a $110 million deficit.

Education Week interviewed Brady for an article on "non-traditional" superintendents that ran after Cathie Black, a former magazine publisher, was picked to be chancellor of the New York City schools. We also interviewed him after the Rhode Island education commissioner ordered the district to allow some principals to select teachers based on student need and teacher quality rather than seniority preferences—a move Brady supported.

Tavares said that he and the school board would launch an immediate search for Brady's successor. Deborah Gist, the state's commissioner of education, said in The Boston Globe that she was worried about a leadership gap in the district.

"With the announcement of (Brady's) departure and with the departure of his deputy, Sharon Contreras, I am deeply concerned about a leadership gap in the Providence schools," Gist said Tuesday, as her office added five of Providence's lowest-achieving schools to a list of four others, named last year, in need of serious reform.

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