Opportunity Schools Partnership Program commissioner resigns

Demond Means led state-mandated turnaround district since November

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Demond Means, commissioner of the MPS Opportunity Schools Partnership Program, has resigned.

Means was appointed by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele to lead the program in November. At the time, Means was superintendent of the Mequon-Thiensville School District.

The program is state-mandated and passed as part of the 2015-17 state budget in an effort to make changes at some of the worst-performing schools in the MPS system. The law gave the program’s commissioner authority to take control of as many as five of the system’s lowest-performing schools each year and place them under the control of an outside education operator.

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“Over the last several months, it has become clear to me that efforts to implement the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program law will become increasingly adversarial at a time when adversity is the last thing our children need,” Means said in a statement released Wednesday. “I have informed the County Executive that I am resigning effective immediately as commissioner of the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program.”

Means, an MPS graduate, said he accepted the job as commissioner out of a desire to improve the lives of children and families living in the city who face challenges associated with poverty and crime.

“In the midst of such challenges, educational opportunity must serve as the great equalizer for the children of Milwaukee,” Means said. “Regrettably, it seems that in education, the focus on children gets lost, and conversations about policy and practice become more about the adults. In a city with so many challenges, the focus must be squarely on our children and what we can do to ensure that their futures are bright.”

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In response to Means’ resignation, Abele issued the following statement: “Dr. Demond Means today submitted his resignation as commissioner of the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program, which I accepted with regret. I chose Dr. Means for this role because he shares my commitment to strong public schools and to improving outcomes for Milwaukee’s kids, families, and communities. I appreciate Demond’s service over the past six months and know he will remain an advocate for helping kids succeed in our public schools.”

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