LAWRENCE -- Jeff Riley, the receiver who has run the city’s public school’s since the state seized them in an historic takeover seven years ago, will give up the job when his contract expires in June, he said Wednesday.
In a letter addressed to the parents and guardians of the school system’s 14,000 students, Riley said it is “time for receivership to begin its next phase with a new governance model.”
He did not elaborate about what that might mean, including whether a new receiver will be appointed or receivership will end with his departure and the schools will be handed back to the city’s School Committee, which was emasculated by the takeover.
Riley will publicly announce his departure at a press conference at South Lawrence East Elementary School at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. He will be joined by state Education Secretary James Peyser, acting commissioner of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeff Wulfson, and Mayor Daniel Rivera.
The state took over Lawrence schools and appointed Riley to run them in January 2011, after the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education called them “chronically underachieving” and designated the entire district Level 5, the lowest ranking. The state had taken over individual schools before then, but had never seized an entire district.
Riley is credited with improving test scores, raising the graduation rate and cutting the drop-out rate, accomplishments he cited in his letter announcing his departure Wednesday.
“The hard work of our students, teachers, staff, families and community partners has transformed us from a system too many people thought was beyond repair into arguably the most improved district in Massachusetts,” Riley said in his letter.
Beyond raising test scores and graduation rates, he cited what he said were his accomplishments: “expanding arts, sports and enrichment programming while fixing and replacing our buildings.”