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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced that he has selected current Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) Director Jesús Aguirre to become the District’s new State Superintendent of Education, directing the work of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). He will replace Interim State Superintendent of Education Emily Durso, who has served in the role since June.
“Jesús has extensive experience in educational operations and administration and has a true educator’s heart, and I think he is a natural choice to direct OSSE’s efforts to ensure every child in the District has access to a high-quality public education,” said Mayor Gray. “While he has done outstanding work as DPR Director, this move allows him to once again employ his significant talents and experience in public education.”
A former classroom teacher as well as the co-founder and executive director of one of the first charter schools in Arizona, Aguirre has extensive experience in school and district operations, teacher development and the creation of literacy and character-development programs. Prior to heading DPR, he worked with the Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) to create a new division – the Office of School Operations – charged with supporting principals and instructional superintendents and allowing them to focus on instruction. In addition to direct support to schools in this role, Aguirre also oversaw security, technology, food service, annual budget development and enrollment functions (including the out-of-boundary lottery and the annual enrollment audit) for DCPS.
As the director of DPR, Aguirre has transformed an agency of over 1000 full- and part-time employees by establishing a focus on outcomes-based programs, staff professional development, and an overall emphasis on providing equal access to high-quality recreation and leisure programing to all residents and visitors of the District. He is currently overseeing the implementation of the largest playground-improvement project in the District’s history, the Play DC initiative.
A Ward 4 resident, Aguirre holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in business administration from Arizona State University.
Aguirre will take over the role from Durso October 1. “I am looking forward to Jesús joining the Mayor’s Education Cabinet and working with us to continue improving public education in the District,” said Deputy Mayor for Education Abigail Smith.
Mayor Gray thanked Durso – who previously served as the Assistant Superintendent for Post-Secondary Education – for stepping up to lead OSSE on an interim basis. “In just a few months, Emily has made an enormous contribution to advancing an ambitious agenda for OSSE. We are grateful for her leadership and the continuity she has provided,” he said.
Dr. Sharia Shanklin, who serves as DPR’s Chief of Community Programs and Services, will serve as that agency’s Interim Director until a permanent replacement can be named. She joined the DPR staff in 2011 and oversees the development and evaluation of all programs. She holds a master’s degree in education from Howard University, a master’s degree in educational leadership from George Mason University, and a doctorate in educational and organizational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.