Report: One of two finalists for FCPS superintendent withdraws candidacy

Fairfax County Public Schools had narrowed its search for a new superintendent down to two candidates — only for one of the reported finalists to drop out of contention last week.

Dr. Cheryl Logan, currently the superintendent of Omaha Public Schools in Nebraska, and Dr. Michelle Reid, the superintendent for the Northshore School District in Washington, were identified as the two finalists for the position yesterday (Sunday) in a statement by the Fairfax County NAACP.

However, the Omaha World-Herald reports that Logan has withdrawn her name from the race for a successor to Superintendent Scott Brabrand, who announced in July that he will leave the role, effective June 30.

According to the World-Herald, Logan told Omaha Public Schools staff on Saturday (April 9) that she was no longer participating in the search and had informed their school board a week earlier that she will stay with Nebraska’s largest school district.

Logan, who served as chief of academic support for the School District of Philadelphia before leaving for Omaha in 2018, told staff that joining FCPS would have allowed her to work closer to “my husband, adult daughter and almost all of my extended family.”

The World-Herald’s story does not address why Logan withdrew her candidacy.

“This is a confidential, personnel matter and there will be no further comment,” a spokesperson for the Fairfax County School Board said.

FFXnow emailed Logan for comment but has not heard back as of publication time.

Fairfax County NAACP “very concerned” by other finalist

Logan was the finalist strongly favored by the Fairfax County NAACP, which noted that she would have been the second woman — after Dr. Karen Garza’s tenure from 2013-2016 — and first-ever Black person to serve as superintendent for FCPS.

The local civil rights advocacy organization argued that Omaha’s size and diversity compared to Northshore suggest Logan would be a better fit for FCPS than Reid. The group also cited impressions of the two candidates it said came from members of a community panel appointed by the school board to participate in the nationwide search.

“While recruiting a new superintendent from only school districts as large, diverse, and complex as FCPS would be a challenge given the small pool of similar districts, we are very concerned about the likelihood of success for a new superintendent who has no professional experience in any capacity with a school district of the size and diversity of FCPS,” the NAACP said in its statement.

The community panel included school principals as well as representatives from school board advisory committees, the Fairfax County Council of PTAs, Northern Virginia Community College, the Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations, and the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, according to the NAACP, which says it lobbied for a spot.

The group says it “determined to share this information with the public” after hearing from panelists who felt “the difference in pertinent experience between the two finalists was so shocking” that they defied non-disclosure agreements.

“As the clock is ticking towards a final decision on the future of FCPS, the community continues to sound the alarm, and we felt it imperative to communicate these concerns to…the citizens of Fairfax County,” the NAACP said. “At a time of unprecedented challenge locally and across the country, we want to do everything we can to assure that our division gets the leader best equipped to hit the ground running.”

GR Consulting, the consulting firm hired to handle the superintendent search, conducted community stakeholder meetings and virtual town halls on Jan. 12, 13, and 28, according to FCPS’ webpage on the process.

The school board held interviews of the two finalists on March 28 and 29. The timing for when Brabrand’s successor will be finalized is listed as “to be decided.”

The school board held emergency closed meetings to discuss the search on March 30 and April 2.