Dr. Desmond Blackburn Resigns As Superintendent of Brevard Public Schools
By Matt Reed, BPS // May 14, 2018
Blackburn was appointed in July 2015 to superintendent for Brevard Public Schools
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Superintendent Desmond Blackburn submitted his resignation Monday to the Brevard County School Board, giving 90 days’ notice.
Blackburn will become CEO of a national nonprofit organization that improves public education by training and mentoring new teachers.
“We wish Dr. Blackburn and his family the very best,” said School Board Chairman John Craig. “We thank him for his leadership in the community and the positive impact he has had on our schools and children.”
Blackburn has served as superintendent of BPS since 2015. Under his leadership, the school district improved in several ways:
• More students earned satisfactory state test scores in “gatekeeper” subjects such as third-grade reading and high school algebra and English.
• The district invested more in career and technical education including in manufacturing, construction and health care.
• BPS introduced a new discipline plan that ensures consistent and equitable punishment from one school to the next.
• The district reduced debt and earned strong credit ratings for conservatively managing its finances.
• BPS leaders strengthened relationships with cities and Brevard’s legislative delegation.
Over the past year, Blackburn also worked with the school board and the Brevard Sheriff’s Office to strengthen school security.
Principals now routinely notify police of threats made by students. And the school board accelerated the installation of security fencing and other equipment that create a “single point of access” at each school.
Blackburn was tapped by Gov. Rick Scott to serve as the only superintendent on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, charged with studying the mass shooting in Parkland and recommending policy improvements.
A week before that tragedy, Blackburn led a contingent of student-government presidents from Brevard high schools on a one-day trip to Tallahassee where the students lobbied legislators to expand mental-health services at all Florida campuses. Blackburn said he would like to continue his work on the public-safety commission.
After leaving BPS, Blackburn will become chief executive officer of the California-based New Teacher Center, a national nonprofit “focused on improving student learning by accelerating the effectiveness of teachers and school leaders.”
The organization is not a BPS contractor. It describes its work as partnering with states, school districts, and policymakers to create sustainable mentoring and training programs for educator, enhance teaching conditions, improve teacher retention and improve school performance.
“I am extremely honored to have the opportunity to lead NTC,” said Blackburn, who will be based in Florida.
“As both an educator and district leader, I have a thorough understanding of the challenges that teachers face in the classroom, the responsibilities of school leaders, and the important role that mentors and coaches play to help educators.”
Craig said the school board will start its conversation about a search for a new superintendent during a workshop Tuesday.
In his letter of resignation, Blackburn wrote: “To my Space Coast family, the residents of Brevard County, please know that serving you has been an honor and an absolute pleasure. From my very first day, all sectors of this community have welcomed me with wide-open arms. You welcomed me into your businesses; you welcomed me into your community functions; you welcomed me into your fundraising efforts for worthy causes; you welcomed me into your churches; and you even welcomed me into your homes. You epitomize ‘class’ and I will miss all of you dearly.”
Matt Susin, School Board member representing District 4, reacted to the news of Dr. Blackburn’s resignation.
“Dr. Blackburn deserves a lot of credit for the many positive things he has done for our district,” said Susin.
“Realigning budgets, reducing testing, eliminating paperwork, placing more focus on the classroom, and putting our students first.
“It is time now to buck the trend of going outside this county to choose our superintendent, and try to hire first from within. For two decades, we have looked over local candidates who have become amazing superintendents in surrounding counties. Dr. Blackburn has set us on a good course and we would do a disservice to our staff and community to bring in someone from the outside who would have to learn the culture here in Brevard.” said Susin.
BPS Board Member Misty Haggard-Belford said, “I thank him for his service to Brevard County and congratulate him on this new opportunity.”
BPS Board Member Tina Descovich said, “It’s been a privilege to work with Dr. Blackburn. Brevard Public Schools has been blessed with his leadership skills and talents. I know he will be successful in anything he tackles and I wish him the best in his new venture.”
ABOUT DR. DESMOND BLACKBURN
Dr. Blackburn is a life-long educator. Prior to his appointment as Brevard’s chief educational leader he served the citizens of Broward County Public Schools as a district trainer, director of school improvement, an area superintendent, and as the chief school performance & accountability officer. His first position in Broward Public Schools was an assignment to teach math at Plantation High School where he also coached men’s basketball and track.
He was born in Mt. Vernon, New York to parents, Desmond and Diana. In 1988, his parents moved him and his sister to Lauderhill, Florida. He attended Piper High School where he excelled academically and athletically leading him to become involved in numerous activities including Radio Broadcasting, Key Club, Track & Field, Basketball, and the Academy of Finance. After graduating from Piper in 1992, he matriculated to the University of Florida where he was a member of Beta Eta Sigma (Black Honor Society), earning a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 1996. He then went on to earn a Master of Science from Nova-Southeastern (2000) and a Doctorate in Philosophy from Florida Atlantic University (2006). He and his wife Kelli have been married nearly 20 years and have two sons, Dean and Grant.
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