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Javier Montañez named PPSD interim superintendent

Montañez steps into the role after Harrison Peters’ May resignation

Javier Montañez will serve as the new interim superintendent of the Providence Public School District following former superintendent Harrison Peters’ May resignation, according to a press release from the Rhode Island Department of Education. Montañez is currently the principal of Leviton Dual Language School, an elementary school in Providence focused on bilingual education in English and Spanish. 

Montañez will step into the role in the wake of Peters’ May resignation, which was due to Peters’ hiring of an administrator, Olayinka Alege, who was charged with assault for rubbing a teenage boy’s foot nonconsensually during his tenure in the PPSD and accused of “popping” toes as a form of discipline prior to arriving, The Herald previously reported.

Amid an already contentious state takeover, the scandal and Peters’ subsequent resignation further sowed uncertainty about Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green’s leadership. 

Some constituents and colleagues worried that the hiring process for Peters was not sufficiently thorough, crediting Infante-Green with the oversight, The Herald previously reported. 

Victor Morente, director of communications at the RIDE, previously told The Herald that the “months-long (hiring) process … considered input from state and city leaders as well as community members including parents and students.” Further, Infante-Green had not been informed about the accusations against Alege prior to hiring Peters, Morente previously wrote in an email to The Herald.

A former Hope High School student himself, Montañez has served in the PPSD since 1997, starting his education career as a dual-language teacher before eventually becoming an assistant principal and finally a principal. 

Montañez took a nontraditional path to district leadership. Growing up, Montañez experienced homelessness and would often come to school just to receive the two meals a day there. After experiencing academic difficulties, he dropped out of high school, but eventually went back to school to receive his GED, according to the press release.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead Providence Public Schools and work with our incredible school community during this pivotal moment,” Montañez said in the press release. “I know the immense value of an education personally because it changed my life, and I’m eager to contribute to the transformational work that is taking place in Providence to help students reach their highest potential.”

Infante-Green expressed hope about Montañez’s appointment. “As a product of Providence Public Schools and now a leader in the District, Dr. Montanez is uniquely prepared to build on the strong foundation laid to turn around Providence schools,” Infante-Green said in the press release. “Throughout his years of service Dr. Montañez has demonstrated a deep commitment to Providence students and families. A lot of work remains ahead to improve outcomes for students in the capital city, and I’m pleased to have him as a partner in this critical effort.”

It remains to be seen if Montañez will fill the role permanently — a role that state leaders hope to fill before the start of the school year. 

Morente declined to comment beyond the press release. 


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