JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The third and final superintendent finalist was interviewed Friday by the Duval County School Board ahead of a meeting where the board is expected to make a decision on who will be offered the job.
Dr. Erick Pruitt, who is currently an area superintendent for the Houston Independent School District, had his two hours with the board Friday morning.
Pruitt oversees about 26,000 students in his current role.
During his interview, news broke of a deadly mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas, a school less than an hour from Pruitt's district.
He spoke after his interview about what needs to be done to stop school shootings.
“We need to make sure we continue to support our kids socially and emotionally,” Pruitt said. “More importantly, our kids need somebody they can talk to and that they can identify with on all of our campuses, so if they are having difficulty, they can go to someone that they trust.”
Pruitt said he believes he has the right set of skills to take on the Duval County Public Schools superintendent position.
During his interview, he said student discipline should focus on why a student was acting out in the first place and that teachers should know how to support students who display unwanted behavior.
He also said to ensure a quality education for students in the Exception Student Education program, the program needs to be analyzed and the staff must have resources to meet the students' needs.
Another question that came up was how he would plan to work with Duval County principals.
He said he would have monthly meetings and establish a principal advisory group to receive feedback.
“Although I’m not a sitting superintendent, I have supported students and upwards of 26,000 currently in Houston and over 30,000 in Chicago, which is larger than most school districts in the nation,” Pruitt said. “I think that any learning curve around becoming the new superintendent is really just understanding local politics here in Florida and getting to understand how we do business here in Duval County.”
Pruitt was the last of the three finalists to be interviewed by the board after the members spoke Wednesday morning with Michael Dunsmore, superintendent for Wayne County Public Schools in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and interviewed Dr. Diana Greene, current superintendent of the School District of Manatee County in Florida, on Thursday.