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New Schools Chief for New Orleans' Recovery School District

UPDATED

After five years leading New Orleans' Recovery School District, Patrick Dobard is leaving to become the CEO of the New Schools for New Orleans, a city-based non-profit that helps to fund and start charter schools.

Dobard will be replaced by Kunjan Narechania, an assistant state superintendent of education in Louisiana. 

The change in leadership comes as the Recovery School District, which took over the management of the vast majority of the schools in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, is set to return governance of the schools to the Orleans Parish School Board. State legislators passed a bill last year that would create a unified school system in the city by July 1, 2018.

(See Education Week's special report on the transformation of New Orleans' school system since Hurricane Katrina.

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As head of the RSD, Narechania will help see through the unification of the two school systems, help Title I schools with their school improvement plans under the new Every Student Succeeds Act and oversee charter authorization across the state and monitor charters and private schools, according to Chiefs for Change. (Narechania was part of the group's "Future Chiefs" program, an initiative aimed at grooming a diverse crop of state and district education leaders.) 

At the New Schools for New Orleans, Dobard will work with Maggie Runyan-Shefa, who will become the organization's COO, to "recruit and develop high-quality school options for students and families, deepen NSNO's work on educator talent, and ensure our organization is running effectively," the organization said in an announcement Thursday.

Runyan-Shefa is now a co-CEO, with Michael Stone. Stone will become president and will work with Dobard on topics such as funding and policy, the group said.

Danielle Dreilinger, of NOLA.com and the Times-Picayune, has an excellent summary of Dobard's tenure and his role in changing the city's school system.

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Photo 1: Kunjan Narechania, center, will lead New Orleans' Recovery School District as the district gets ready to sunset and return oversight of most of the city's schools to the Orleans Parish School Board. She will also oversee Title I school improvement. -- courtesy Chiefs for Change. 

Photo 2: Patrick Dobard, former superintendent of Louisiana's Recovery School District, addresses students at Joseph S. Clark High School in New Orleans, on Jan. 31, 2012.  -- photo by Bill Haber/AP

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