Superintendent Announcement

The following content archives the selection process for the new Superintendent of the Philadelphia School District in 2022.

The Board is proud to announce the appointment of Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D. as the next Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. Watlington’s first day as Philadelphia’s Superintendent will be June 16, 2022. 

Since January 2021, Dr. Watlington has served as superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools, North Carolina’s only Renewal School District, serving over 18,000 students and families in grades PK-12. Rowan-Salisbury School District operates 33 schools and has an annual operating budget of $191,545,200. The district student population is 52.13% White, 21.49% Hispanic, 18.91% Black, and 7.47% other racial groups, with 67% of students qualifying for free- or reduced-price lunch. He began his tenure with an extensive listening and learning tour that was followed by a comprehensive strategic planning process. The listening and learning tour engaged all segments of the district’s diverse community via 35 focus groups and a 45-member steering committee composed of students, staff, parents, and community leaders.

The Rowan-Salisbury School District has a history of innovation, including being the first district in the state to implement a large-scale K-12 one-to-one device program, providing Apple devices to all children for use at home and at school. As highlighted by NBC Nightly News in January 2022, Rowan-Salisbury School District has served as a national model for educating students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to joining Rowan-Salisbury Schools, Dr. Watlington served as Chief of Schools in Guilford County Schools, the third largest school district in North Carolina and the 47th largest among 14,000 school districts in the United States. Guilford County Schools operates 125 schools and an annual operating budget of $767,272,699. The district student population was 40.65% Black, 32.49% White, 15.7% Hispanic, 6.42% Asian, 4.20% Multi-racial, 0.39% American Indian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, and students spoke nearly 100 different languages/dialects, and 65.1% of the students qualifying for free- or reduced-price lunch.

Dr. Watlington is a collaborative, results-oriented leader focused on improving systems that lead to an extraordinary education for every student every day. A first-generation college graduate and a champion for equity, he is committed to building collaborative school and community teams accountable for creating life-changing opportunities for all children while significantly reducing achievement and opportunity gaps.

A native of Fort Dix, New Jersey, and the youngest of seven children, Dr. Watlington attended school in Harnett County, North Carolina, and spent summers and holidays in Willingboro, New Jersey. He received his undergraduate degree in History Education from N.C. A&T State University, a Master of Arts in American Political History from The Ohio State University, a Master of School Administration, and a Doctor of Educational Leadership from UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was a NC Principal Fellow. He also holds training certificates from Harvard and Yale Universities and is a member of the Howard University National Urban Superintendent’s Academy sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA).

Dr. Watlington began his career as a history teacher in Guilford County, NC, in 1994 and was named District Teacher of the Year in 1998. A life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Dr. Watlington was honored as the North Carolina PTA Administrator of the Year in 2014. He received the Communities in Schools (CIS) Champion’s Cup and Business Leaders Movers and Shakers Award. He also serves on numerous boards, including the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Public School Forum.

It is critical for the stability, growth, and morale of the entire School District that Dr. Watlington is set up for success. The Board is deeply committed to ensuring this happens. The first step in onboarding Dr. Watlington will be working alongside Dr. Hite and School District stakeholders to facilitate knowledge transfer and relationship continuity. Dr. Hite’s counsel and partnership with Dr. Watlington will be instrumental to a successful transition, and Dr. Hite will be actively involved until he departs in June, at the end of the school year. 

This announcement concludes the six-month, Board-led search process that included:

  1. A public engagement phase with 48 listening sessions in partnership with 50+ community partners, and a robust digital survey, all inviting Philadelphians to weigh in on the qualities and capabilities they desired in the next superintendent. In early December 2021, the Board published the results from that phase – a detailed, 27-page report highlighting the containing feedback from nearly 6,000 Philadelphians. This report will be provided to Watlington as part of his onboarding to ensure he has a record of what Philadelphians said in the October-November public engagement phase, and so he can consult it frequently as part of his plans to meet their needs and concerns.
  2. A 13-member Superintendent Search Advisory Committee to center and represent the voices of diverse communities by participating in candidate interviews and providing guidance to ensure the Board stayed in alignment with the priorities and goals that came out of the community engagement process that launched the search.
  3. A series of in-person and live streamed roundtables, and public town halls, with the final three candidates.

We hope you’ve been tuning into the Superintendent Candidate Conversations. From Monday, March 14 – Wednesday, March 16, the daily schedule of live streams includes:

Along with the Candidate Town Hall, which is still open for registration.

Missed any of them? You can catch them here.

The Board of Education is proud to announce the final 3 candidates in consideration to fill the role of the next Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. They are:

 John L. Davis Jr. (he/him) 

Current Role: Chief of Schools, Baltimore City Public Schools

Experience Relative to the Role of Superintendent: For the last 30 years, Davis has worked in large urban school districts, specifically rising through the ranks in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore City. Much like the School District of Philadelphia, these school districts serve richly diverse student populations: African-American students comprise between 52-74% of the student population, Hispanic students 16-22%, English Learners 10-15%, and 15% of students receive special education services. While these cities have different charter school governance structures than Philadelphia, charter schools in both Washington, D.C. and Baltimore City have a significant presence among the choices families make. What’s more, both D.C. and Baltimore school districts have prioritized the academic achievement of students while facing substantial school building and facility modernization challenges. That prioritization of academic achievement in DC resulted in steady increases in graduation rates, while also leading the nation in math and reading growth on the 2013 & 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP-TUDA). Davis began his career as a middle school math teacher at West Baltimore Middle School in 1992, and later served as the founding principal of New Era Academy HS. His career achievements include improving district-wide communications; the implementation of the Flamboyan family engagement model; and successful implementation of blended learning, school budgeting, and strategic support for low-performing schools.


Krish Mohip (he/him)

Current Role: Deputy Education Officer, Illinois State Board of Education

Experience Relative to the Role of Superintendent: Mohip has nearly 20 years of progressive experience in closing the achievement gap, developing and overseeing innovative academic programs, and leading initiatives for college and career readiness. He began his career working as a kindergarten teacher in Chicago Public Schools. While there, he rose through the ranks and served in the positions of assistant principal, principal, deputy chief of schools, and chief of schools. He also served as a member of the CEO’s Executive Cabinet and Academic Team. Mohip was later recruited by the State of Ohio to lead the first state-led transformation of an entire district. Under his leadership, the district’s high school graduation rate rose 11 percentage points to 85.1% in just two years. Through the implementation of Freshman Academies at all high schools, Freshman on Track data improved from 63% to 94% in one year. Youngstown Early College graduated 100% of students, with 91% of those students earning an Associate’s Degree. In addition, Mohip implemented a comprehensive academic approach, rooted in an effective Instructional Framework alongside analytical data systems that measured both student progress and adult implementation. Mohip returned to Illinois in 2019 to serve on the leadership team at the Illinois State Board of Education.


Let’s Meet the Candidates 

Read in your Language: SHQIP | عربي | 汉语 | ខ្មែរ  | Français | Português | Pусский | Español | Việt

Each candidate will come to Philadelphia, individually, for a full day of meetings and connecting with students, staff , families and Philadelphians across the District.

  • Monday, March 14: John L. Davis Jr.
  • Tuesday, March 15: Krish Mohip
  • Wednesday, March 16: Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D.

All Philadelphians will have the opportunity to hear from each candidate. Here’s how:

1. Candidate Conversations
The Board will live stream a series of roundtables with each candidate. Monday, March 14 – Wednesday, March 16, the public is invited to tune in via the School District of Philadelphia’s Facebook page. Here are the times:

  • 9:30a.m. – 10:15a.m.: Roundtable with Parents and Guardians
  • 12:30p.m. – 1:15p.m.: Roundtable with Students
  • 4:30p.m. – 5:15p.m.: Roundtable with Teachers and Principals

2. Candidate Town Hall
March 14 – 16, 6p.m. – 7p.m., join us in person at 440 N. Broad St. or virtually (via both or the School District of Philadelphia’s Facebook page) as WHYY’s Cherri Gregg moderates a Town Hall with each candidate. Each Town Hall will include questions taken from both the in-person and virtual audiences. Whether you are in person or tuned in virtually, access is the same. Register now to join us in-person. Seating is limited, and is first come, first serve. No registration is required to watch online.

An ASL interpreter and language interpretation services will be provided.

As part of the Board’s commitment to ensuring that both virtual and in-person attendees have a meaningful Town Hall experience, all attendees will have the opportunity to suggest a question for the finalists. Per the School District of Philadelphia’s updated COVID-19 guidelines, masks are optional and are not required. Registration is required for in-person attendance and seating is first come, first serve. No registration is required to watch the town halls online.

Read in your Language: SHQIP | عربي | 汉语 | ខ្មែរ  | Français | Português | Pусский | Español | Việt

On Monday, March 14 – Wednesday, March 16, the three final Superintendent candidates will come to Philadelphia. The Board will host one candidate per day. Each candidate’s schedule includes:

  • 9:30AM – 10:15AM: Roundtable with Parents and Guardians, live streamed via Facebook
  • 12:30PM – 1:15PM: Roundtable with Students, live streamed via Facebook
  • 4:30PM – 5:15PM: Roundtable with Teachers and Principals, live streamed via Facebook
  • 6PM – 7PM: Public Town Hall at 440 Auditorium. Registration for the Town Halls is now open.

An ASL interpreter and language interpretation services will be provided.

As part of the Board’s commitment to ensuring that both virtual and in-person attendees have a meaningful Town Hall experience, all attendees will have the opportunity to suggest a question for the finalists. Per the School District of Philadelphia’s updated COVID-19 guidelines, masks are optional and are not required. Registration is required for in-person attendance and seating is first come, first serve. No registration is required to watch the town halls online.

Further details will be announced on Friday, March 11.

Calling Students, Teachers and Principals, Parents and Guardians: Meet the Finalists! 

In March 2022, the Board will announce the final Superintendent candidates (scroll down to take a look at the candidate pool). Following the announcement, the Board will invite the final candidates, individually, to Philadelphia. Each of their itineraries will include one public, in-person and live-streamed town hall for ALL Philadelphians to hear from them and ask questions; along with smaller in-person and live-streamed sessions: one with students, one with teachers and principals, and one with parents/guardians. This will all take place during the month of March.

All eligible Philadelphians can nominate themselves to be part of the small group sessions to meet with the finalists. Those selected will participate for ALL finalists – meaning, students selected will be the same students in conversation with every finalist; teachers and principals selected will be the same teachers and principals in conversation with every finalist, etc. 

The three small group sessions are (and thus, nominations are open for):

  • 10 high school students, virtually (there will also be 11 principal-selected students in-person, at a high school TBD)
  • 11 teachers or principals, in-person
  • 11 parents/guardians, in-person

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, smaller gatherings are necessary; but all sessions will be live streamed and the viewing public will be invited to ask questions.

Nominations are open until Monday, February 28 at 11:59PM ET. Those selected will be notified on Wednesday, March 9 and provided all dates and meeting details at that time. Participants must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination (2 doses if Pfizer or Moderna; 1 dose if Johnson & Johnson).

Philadelphians can also submit questions for the finalists to address during the sessions by emailing them to

Nominate yourself here. If you have any difficulties completing the form, please email

More information about the bigger town hall will be coming soon.

Since publishing the superintendent job profile on December 7, 2021, the Board of Education has cast both a local and national net in the search for the next leader of the School District of Philadelphia. To date, well over 400 leadershave been connected to the superintendent search.

While still a very fluid process, the Board has begun to establish a smaller candidate pool of qualified and inspiring individuals who have met the Board’s criteria. Of the current, smaller candidate pool:

  • 64.29% identify as Black, while14.29% identify as Hispanic; 7.14% identify as White; and 14.29% chose not to identify
  • 42.86% are from the Northeast; 14.29% from the South; 28.57% from the Midwest; 7.14% from the Southwest; and 7.14% from the West
  • 21.4% self-identified as women; 71.4% self-identified as men
  • 21% have leadership experience in the School District of Philadelphia
  • All have some form of experience working in education
  • All have led major organizations or institutions
  • All have experience working with diverse communities
  • 64% of candidates currently working in school administrations, are in Districts similar to Philadelphia in size and demographics

The superintendent search remains on schedule, per the timeline below. Dr. William Hite will continue to be instrumental in the plan to onboard his successor. The Board is committed to creating an environment where the next superintendent will be well-resourced and set up for success.

Following the finalist announcement in March, the Board will invite final candidates to Philadelphia for a series of meetings with stakeholders, and opportunities for the public to hear from them directly. The final candidate names will be released only once finalists have informed their current employers of their plans to pursue this position.

The Board continues to ensure that this process is carried out in alignment with the themes that emerged in the October – November community engagement process and with the objectives of the Board’s strategic plan which we call Goals & Guardrails. Those themes are highlighted in this 27-page report the Board released in December 2021.

Questions? Email To stay up to date on this process, we encourage you to sign up for email updates here.


The Search Timeline 

  • December 2, 2021: Final Report released to the public, detailing themes and feedback gathered during the community input process.
  • December 3, 2021: Job Profile Released + Local and national search begins
  • December 7, 2021: 13-member Superintendent Search Advisory Committee announced (info below)
  • Winter 2022: Superintendent interviews
  • February – March 2022: Board moves from top 5 candidates to finalists
  • March 2022: Public forums with final candidates
  • Spring 2022: New Superintendent announced
  • August 2022: New Superintendent starts

Community Input

We Announced 17 Sessions in 18 Days...and Hosted 48 Sessions in 25 Days!


Listening Sessions




Individuals Engaged


Unique Survey Responses


Community Organizations
& Agencies Engaged

We asked: what do you want in the next superintendent? And nearly 6,000 of you answered.

On December 2, 2021, the Board of Education released this 27-page community engagement report that summarizes feedback from Philadelphians who shared what qualities and capabilities they desire in the next The School District of Philadelphia Superintendent.

The report also provides a snapshot of the strengths and challenges of the School District, the extensive progress of the last 10 years, and the opportunities for the next superintendent to build on Goals & Guardrails and increase achievement for all students.

You can download the report here

The information in this community engagement report has helped inform the superintendent job profile which has been released by Isaacson, Miller, the search firm the Board engaged to help recruit strong, qualified candidates for the superintendent role. You can view it here. While the responsibility to select the superintendent rests solely with the Board, this report will be fundamental to the Board’s process of vetting superintendent candidates and ultimately hiring for the role.

Thank you to the many offices and organizations who partnered with us to bring communities together, including:

  1. The African American Chamber of Commerce, PA,NJ,DE
  2. African American Charter School Coalition
  4. Black Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity
  5. CAIR-Philadelphia
  6. CASA Philadelphia
  7. Center for Black Educator Development
  8. The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia
  9. Children First
  10. The Chinese Disabilities Project
  11. Commonwealth Association of School Administrators (CASA)
  12. Congreso
  13. Enon Tabernacle Church
  14. HUNE
  15. The Mantua Civic Association Education Advisory Committee
  16. Masjidullah Inc.
  17. Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs
  18. Mayor’s Commission for People with Disabilities
  19. Muslim Youth Center ofPhiladelphia
  20. Neubauer Family Foundation
  21. The Office of Faith-based and Interfaith Affairs
  22. The Office of Immigrant Affairs
  23. The Office of LGBT Affairs
  24. The Office of Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez
  25. The Office of State Senator Nikil Saval
  26. The Office of State Rep Elizabeth Fiedler
  27. The Office of State Rep Morgan Cephas
  28. Parent Power
  29. Partners in School Innovation
  30. The PEAL Center
  31. PECO
  32. People’s Emergency Center
  33. Philadelphia Academy of School Leaders
  34. Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta
  35. Philadelphia Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi
  36. Philadelphia Charters for Excellence
  37. Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation
  38. Philadelphia Education Fund
  39. The Philadelphia Equity Alliance
  40. Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
  41. Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development (PHENND)
  42. The Philadelphia Housing Authority
  43. The Philadelphia Masjid
  44. Philly ASAP
  45. SELF, Inc.
  46. SLA Beeber Home and School
  47. Dobbins HS Home and School
  48. Sunrise of Philadelphia
  49. Taller Puertorriqueño
  50. Teach for America
  51. Teach Plus
  52. Urban League of Philadelphia
  53. UrbEd

Selection Process

Additional Community Input and Diverse Voices Along the Way 

On December 7, the Board announced the appointment of 13 Philadelphians to serve on the newly-created Superintendent Search Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee). The Advisory Committee has been convened to ensure the inclusion of diverse voices in the superintendent search process and includes stakeholders from multiple communities and constituencies across the City of Philadelphia.

The Advisory Committee members are:

Rebecca Allen: a Student Board Representative for the School District of Philadelphia and a junior at Central High School. She is the Alliance Chairperson for the Philly Black Students Alliance, and the Vice-President and founder of U.N.H.E.A.R.D. (Uprooting Negligence by Habituating Equity and Anti-Racism through Real Discussions), which leads discussions about anti-racism, inclusion and diversity. She is also a member of the Nexus team, which builds relationships at Central through restorative justice practices. Allen serves on the committee to ensure superintendent candidates understand the factors that influence students every day.

Ernie Bennett: the School District of Philadelphia’s leader of SEIU 32BJ, which represents approximately 2,000 district employees. He is also a member of the Men United Against Violence Network and the Veterans Multi-Service Center.

Virginia Field: a kindergarten teacher at William H. Loesche Elementary School, where she also mentors practicum students, serves as a member of the building committee, and supports the Cradles-to-Crayons program. She comes from a family of public school educators — her parents and sister all taught in the School District of Philadelphia — and her daughter and son are graduates of the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush. Field believes the biggest benefits for students lie in a positive relationship, open communication, and ongoing collaboration between district leadership and school level staff members.

Regina A. Hairston: the President & CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, which is committed to the economic development and empowerment of Black-owned businesses in the region. Her son graduated from Overbrook High School and her daughter attended Harambee Charter School. Hairston’s work supports workforce development to ensure District students receive the education and skills to be connected to careers and living wage-paying jobs after graduation. She also supports nonprofits that assist with wrap-around supports and activities to supplement the public school experience.

Cindy Lee Hauger: Operations Director at Project Based Learning, Inc., where she is responsible for human resources, finances, and fundraising functions. Her husband has worked in the District as a teacher and principal for over 25 years. They have two children currently attending District schools — Science Leadership Academy at Beeber — and a child who graduated from The Workshop School. Hauger chose a nonprofit career to help apply her previous knowledge from the corporate world to improving education in Philadelphia. She also took the step of moving her family into the city from Lower Merion so her children could get a Philadelphia public school education; she believes in it, and wants to be part of helping it grow stronger.

Dr. Ayesha Imani: Head of School at Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School and Executive Manager of Imhotep Institute Charter High School, where she teaches, learns, loves, and leads in intergenerational African-centered learning communities. She attended District public schools for her K-12 education, and all of her children and grandchildren have also attended Philadelphia District and charter schools, including the C.W. Henry School and Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School. Dr. Imani has spent over 44 years as a public educator and advocate for educational equity, 24 of which were spent in the School District of Philadelphia. She is passionate in her belief that the success of the School District of Philadelphia and public charter schools are inextricably tied together.

Pep Marie:Coalition Coordinator of Our City Our Schools (OCOS). OCOS is a growing education justice coalition, made up of two dozen youth, parent, school staff and community organizations who work together on issues of investment, governance and funding to transform our District’s schools. Pep is also an alum of the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) and the Philadelphia Student Union. Pep is dedicated to building with and learning from school community leaders across the city and joined the committee to ensure that our next Superintendent is excited to do the same.

Marina Nunez: a Bilingual Family Advisor at Hispanos Unidos para Niños Excepcionales (HUNE), a nonprofit organization that provides free bilingual English and Spanish training, technical assistance and individual assistance to families of infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities, and to professionals who work with children. Her oldest son graduated from Lankenau Environmental Science Magnet High School, and her two youngest children attend High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA). Nunez supports public education by making sure all families have access to equal opportunities, general curriculum and Pennsylvania core standards.

Armando Ortez: a Student Board Representative for the School District of Philadelphia and a senior at Northeast High School, where he takes dual enrollment courses at Community College of Philadelphia. At Northeast he also participates in track and lacrosse, and recently attended Access Engineering, an enrichment program presented by University of Pennsylvania students to introduce high school students to engineering. A first-generation Honduran American who is interested in politics and advocating for social justice, Ortez works to represent the interests of immigrant students and to ensure there are safe, comfortable spaces for students who lack a home or family.

Dr. John W. Spencer: the principal of John F. McCloskey School and a member of Teamsters Local 502/Commonwealth Association of School Administrators (CASA). He is a second-generation principal in the District, and an alumnus of Germantown High School. All of his children have attended District schools, including one who graduated this year. Dr. Spencer believes in the children, families and employees that comprise the School District of Philadelphia, and serves on the committee to give back to a community that has poured so much into him.

Dr. David E. Thomas: Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Community Engagement at Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), where he designs, implements and leads the strategic initiatives and programs of the college. He is an alumnus of Central High School, and his son graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School. Dr. Thomas is a board member of Youthbuild Philadelphia Charter School and a steering committee member of Project U-Turn. He is committed to finding the ideal superintendent candidate who can build upon the great things already happening in our public schools, while remedying the challenging areas our schools continue to face.

Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, Ph.D.: Senior Pastor at Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church. His youngest two children were educated in the School District of Philadelphia, including Julia R. Masterman School and Science Leadership Academy. Rev. Tyler has consistently called and fought for fair funding in state spending on public education through his work with POWER Interfaith, participating in countless meetings, marches, demonstrations and other actions. He serves on the committee because he believes our next superintendent will be one of the most important persons for years to come, making decisions that will have a lasting impact that outlives the next generation.

Christiana Uy: Senior Director, Legal and Paralegal, at PREIT Services, LLC, the management affiliate of Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT). She has two sons attending the A.S. Jenks School and another son who will enter the District next year. Uy is a member of the Parent and Community Advisory Council to the Board of Education, and also participates in A.S. Jenks’ Home and School Association. She serves on the committee to continue to ensure every child has the opportunity to be successful, safe and happy, to give back to the community, and to show that the District’s superintendent search is an honest, transparent and real process.

There will be a public meet and greet opportunity to hear from the final two candidates before a final selection is made by the Board.

The Board will also has the support of The Parent and Community Advisory Council of the Board of Education – a group of individuals composed of parents/caregivers, community stakeholders, faith-based leaders, former educators and staff members who are dedicated to the children and youth of the School District of Philadelphia. The Board consistently seeks the Advisory Council’s input on all matters pertaining to the District, and will continue to do so during this public input and superintendent search process.