Superintendent Rebecca Johnson announces resignation

Published 5:25 pm Saturday, July 22, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

RESERVE — With less than three weeks remaining until the start of the 2023-24 school year, Superintendent Rebecca Johnson announced her resignation to the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board on Friday, July 21.

Johnson issued an official statement to stakeholders on Saturday evening.

“I wanted to reach out and thank the community as a whole for the opportunity to serve the students, staff, and community of St. John the Baptist Parish. I have met excellent educators, wonderful families, and precious students during my time here. I have also had the opportunity to work alongside passionate community groups and volunteers,” Johnson said. “I want to ensure all stakeholders that beginning of the school year systems and processes are already in place and that the district’s team is ready for students. In no way will my departure impact the successful launch of this academic year.”

Johnson’s announcement follows the recent resignations of several St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools administrators, including the human resources director and chief financial officer.

Johnson and School Board President Shawn Wallace issued the following joint statement denying any correlation between the recent resignations:

“While the resignations of several top officials in the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School System – including the human resources director, chief financial officer, and superintendent – have occurred nearly simultaneously, they are in no way connected. Some employees have decided to pursue other employment avenues, while others have decided to take positions better suited for family life.”

According to Wallace, the path forward to the district’s next superintendent will begin with discussions on Wednesday, July 26, during the School Board’s workshop scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. at LaPlace Elementary School.

The first step is for an interim superintendent to be voted in by the board, and Wallace said that placement will require a majority vote of the 11-member school board. Voting will take place during a school board meeting. While the next school board meeting is scheduled for August 10, Wallace said a special meeting could be called in advance of that date.

After appointing an interim superintendent, Wallace said, a formal search and advertising for a permanent superintendent will be launched.  The interim superintendent’s appointment can last up to six months, Wallace added.

“We will work to appoint an interim superintendent as soon as possible, all while doing everything that we can to make sure this school year is as successful as possible,” Wallace said. “The school board is eager for the beginning of a wonderful school year, and we are confident that the transition team in place will ensure a successful start for all students, teachers, and families.”

Johnson left the Louisiana Department of Education to join St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools as Director of Federal Programs in August 2021. She became interim superintendent in May 2022, and the title was made official in December 2022.

In a recent interview with L’OBSERVATEUR, Johnson announced a five-year plan highlighting priorities for the growth of the school district.

She described her first year serving in the superintendent capacity as “a joyful but challenging experience” that taught her a lot about the St. John the Baptist Parish community.

Johnson stepped into the superintendent position knowing she wanted to change the culture surrounding St. John the Baptist Parish Public schools, especially as it involved transparency, communication, and the perception of the community.

“I am confident that I have left the school system in better shape than I found it, and for that I am proud. I wish nothing but the best for the educators, students and families of St. John Parish, and I sincerely hope that the school district continues to elevate excellence under whoever the new superintendent may be,” Johnson said.

The superintendent position has been in flux in St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools since Kevin George exited the district in 2019, kicking off a search process that was restarted in fall 2019 and culminated when Dr. Lynett Hookfin was hired in 2020. Dr. Hookfin led the district for just under two years before resigning in May 2022.

More information will be shared following the July 26 School Board workshop.