Education Reform Providence Rhode Island Turnaround

Providence: State Takeover Stumbles As “Toe-Popping” Official and Superintendent Are Fired

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When Gina Raimondo was Governor of Rhode Island (she is now Biden’s Secretary of Commerce), she determined that the only way to fix the Providence schools was a state takeover. Raimondo, a former hedge fund manager, hired Angelica Infante-Green as state commissioner, although Green’s experience was limited to two years of Teach for America and a few years as a state bureaucrat (she was never a principal). Green promptly joined Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change, whose members favor privatization and oppose unions.

Green hired Harrison Peters as superintendent of schools for the troubled Providence district. Peters hired ex-Tampa administrator Olayinka Alege to be the Providence network superintendent of secondary schools.

Then parents and students began to complain that Alege liked to massage their feet and pop their toes. More boys came forward to report toe-popping incidents. Alege said it was discipline, but some of the toe-popping occurred in private gyms.

Infante Green asked both Harrison Peters and Alege to resign. Peters leaves with a buyout of $170,000. Legislators are outraged that he wasn’t fired “for cause” without severance pay.

Senator Louis P. DiPalma, chairman of the Senate Rules, Government Ethics and Oversight Committee, called the Peters payout “unconscionable.”

I’m not a lawyer, but I think there could have been termination for cause,” he said. “And there should have been 11 months ago.”

DiPalma, a Middletown Democrat, noted that Peters on Monday told the committee he knew about news reports from 2009 that Alege had been accused of squeezing the toes of multiple boys in Florida – a practice referred to as “toe popping” – but Peters did not tell the hiring committee about that information.

Infante-Green is undeterred. The turnaround will continue.


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