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CASD to vote on new Superintendent

The Coatesville Area School Board (CASB) will vote on the appointment of Tomás Hanna as its next superintendent of schools at a special board meeting scheduled for Thursday, June 18, 2020.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome a superintendent with Mr. Hanna’s diverse experience and background,” said Robert Fisher, president of the Coatesville Area School Board. “His extensive leadership experience in urban school districts such as the New York City Department of Education and the School District of Philadelphia will bring to our district a valuable perspective on the challenges the Coatesville Area School District  is facing.

“His role as a deputy superintendent, high school principal, human resources director and as a teacher will enable Mr. Hanna to draw upon his direct experience in a number of educational leadership positions to inform and guide his decisions,” said Fisher.

Hanna is currently the chief human capital officer for the New York City Department of Education. He has worked in New York City schools since 2011 where he has also served as executive director of organizational services, and chief of innovation.  Prior to the New York City Department of Education, Hanna served as associate superintendent for academic support and senior vice president for human resources for the School District of Philadelphia.  He also served as principal of Kensington High School in the School District of Philadelphia, and a teacher of bilingual and English language learners.

“I am excited to meet our students, families and communities, to hear more about their visions for Coatesville schools, and to begin working together toward our goals,” said Hanna.  “I also am excited to engage our teachers, school leaders and support staff to listen, learn, and talk about why and how we do our work in the service of our nearly 6,000 students and their families. Our goal will be to ensure high-quality teaching and learning, and to make our schools joyful places for students and staff alike.”

Mr. Hanna received his undergraduate degree from the University of Puerto Rico in secondary English education; his master’s degree is in bilingual education from LaSalle University, and his superintendent letter of eligibility was earned at St. Joseph’s University.

Hanna will be replacing Dr. Richard Dunlap, who has been serving as interim superintendent since August 2019. If appointed, Hanna is expected to begin his duties as superintendent at Coatesville Area School District on July 1, 2020.

 “I am humbled at the opportunity and look forward to hitting the ground running to build on the great work done by Dr. Dunlap and the Board of Directors during the past year,” said Hanna.

The special meeting will be held at the Coatesville Area School District administration building on Thursday, June 18 at 7:00 PM for the Board, and virtually via Zoom for the public. The Board of School Directors regrets that it is unable to open the meeting for the public to attend in person due to the Governor’s orders restricting gatherings to 25 people or less during the Yellow Phase of the COVID-19 pandemic mitigation efforts. However, the public will be able to watch the proceedings live and submit public comment.  A link will be posted on the District’s website along with instructions on how to submit comments by 12:00 noon on Wednesday, June 17. 

Mr. Hanna’s appointment will come after a five-month search that was interrupted by the COVID-19 mandatory closure of all Pennsylvania schools and the stay-in-place orders for the entire commonwealth.

The district received 21 applications for the position from a diverse candidate pool of superintendents, assistant superintendents, and life-long educators. Eleven highly-qualified candidates were invited for a first round interview; of those 11 candidates, five advanced to second round interviews; and three were chosen for the third and final round of interviews.

During the stay at home orders, the Board completed rigorous first and second round interviews via Zoom to determine the degree of fit between the community’s criteria and the candidate's professional experiences. The Board held in-person interviews with the final three candidates.  The interview process included in-depth questions developed from an analysis of stakeholder priorities gathered through in-person focus groups and a survey to parents, staff and the community at large. Submission of an entry plan and a detailed presentation to address the district’s most pressing issues were also integral components of the interview process.

Prior to the final round of interviews, the Board conducted a thorough reference and background check on each of the semi-finalists.

To gather stakeholder input, the Board conducted a series of community focus groups in late February and early March and administered an electronic survey in April. This information was used to develop interview questions, to establish the criteria for the next superintendent, and to inform the Board on the priorities of the community.