DPS's Ferebee to head Indianapolis schools

Jul. 01, 2013 @ 06:30 PM

I. Lewis Ferebee,  a top administrator in the Durham Public School system for three years, has been named superintendent of the Indianapolis Public Schools, Indiana’s largest and most academically diverse school system.

Ferebee has worked directly with DPS Superintendent Eric Becoats in developing and overseeing academic programs and assisting with the development of the district’s budget.

Selected by the Indianapolis Public Schools board of school commissioners, Ferebee’s contract will be made public and subject to a public forum before the board takes a public vote on hisring.

“I am honored to learn that the Indianapolis Public Schools board has selected me as their preferred superintendent candidate,” Ferebee said in an official statement. “I greatly anticipate further discussion with the board in the coming weeks to finalize the terms under which I will serve the Indianapolis Public Schools community as superintendent.”

Ferebee had been the chief of staff for DPS since his appointment in 2010 when he replaced the chief administrative officer position.

Ferebee was chosen in Indianapolis over two other finalists, Thomas Darden, executive director of New York City Charter Schools for ASPRIA, a group that supports Puerto Rican and Latino youth; and Millard House II, chief operating officer for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

“After an intensive search process, we are excited to have Dr. Ferebee leading our district,” said IPS Board President Diane Arnold. “We are ready to move forward on behalf of our children with his guidance.”

Ferebee will be replacing former Superintendent Eugene White, who retired in April, and Interim Superintendent Peggy Hinckley.

DPS Superintendent Eric Becoats had nothing but good things to say of the man that ventured with him to Durham three years ago.

“Dr. Ferebee has been a strong, critical and trusted leader during his three years with Durham Public Schools. I fully support Lewis and his desire to pursue this great opportunity,” Becoats said. “Indianapolis will be fortunate to acquire this great talent.”

Viewed as one of the more traditional candidates for the post, Ferebee was introduced to the position by IPS Board Member Gayle Cosby, who heard Ferebee speak in a session on new superintendents at a National School Boards Association meeting.

After Ferebee mentioned he was looking for a superintendent opportunity, Cosby invited him to apply.

DPS Board Chair Heidi Carter said before the announcement that she was aware of Ferebee’s ambitions and his desire to grow professionally, including applying for the superintendent position with IPS.

“I have much respect for Dr. Ferebee and the leadership that he has provided in Durham Public Schools,” Carter said. “I think he will be an excellent superintendent for some lucky district, whenever that may happen.

“I also believe that Dr. Ferebee is committed to the ongoing work of our district and will be devoted to the programs underway for as long as he remains with us.”

Ferebee currently leads and supports all DPS principals as well as works directly with Becoats to develop and oversee academic programs and help with the development of the district’s budget.

Ferebee is a 16-year veteran in public education and has served in several capacities, including regional superintendent for Guilford County Schools, middle school principal in Guilford County Schools from 2005 to 2007 and elementary school principal for four years in the High Point City Schools.

He was named Principal of the Year in Guilford County in 2006 and was the instructional improvement officer in the same district from 2007 to 2009.

IPS also noted Ferebee’s implementation of a pre-Advanced Placement curriculum that was made accessible to all middle school students, his reduction of the number of Durham schools designated by the state as “low-performing” to zero and having led North Carolina in the number of middle schools making Adequate Yearly Progress among large urban school districts.

DPS and IPS are comparable in size. The Indianapolis system has about 30,000 students; Durham, about 33,000.

Ferebee has spent time in Indianapolis meeting with education stakeholders and touring the city following interviews and public introductions as part of the search process.

“I have relished in my discussions with board members and have come to regard them as talented and well intended individuals who are passionate about ensuring positive outcomes from students and families of the district,” he said. “I endeavor to do the same. I thoroughly enjoyed my time touring the city and interacting with individuals who are personally committed to raising expectations of what our children can do to awaken in them the determination to excel at whatever they choose to do.”