Retiring HCPS superintendent says he's leaving school system in a good place

Updated: Feb. 7, 2018 at 5:52 PM EST
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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Henrico County Public Schools will soon start the search for a new superintendent.

Dr. Patrick Kinlaw is retiring after four years as head of the school system and 20 years with the county.

On Wednesday, he spoke to NBC12 about the state of Henrico school and how he believes some of the more controversial issues were handled during his time.

Dr. Kinlaw says he feels like he's leaving the school system in a good place.

"That's any leaders goal is to leave a system better than it was when they took it," he said.

Dr. Kinlaw says the decision to retire was not easy, especially when the school board offered a contract extension. But he has spent 40 years in education. Two decades were with HCPS and four of those years were as superintendent.  "Forty is a good, round number so I felt it was time to move to the next chapter," he said.

During his time, the number of fully accredited schools rose to a five year high from 39 schools to 54 schools.

"I'm sure that momentum will continue because of the wonderful people that we have working in our schools," said Dr. Kinlaw.

Money from the meals tax and bond program helped pay for school renovations and more teachers.

"You want to create an environment that is inviting and you want to create an environment that is inviting," said Dr. Kinlaw.  "People are comfortable in that it is updated and clean and that has an impact on the work that occurs in a school building."

But there were controversial issues.  Most recently, the offensive Short Pump Middle School locker room video that outraged parents, sparked a police investigation and forced the football team to forfeit its season.

"Hindsight is 20/20, and certainly community members had different opinions on what occurred and how it was handled," said Dr. Kinlaw.

Since then, the school system is in the process of hiring  Director of Equity and Diversity and began working with the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities which is something Kinlaw says will continue after he retires.  "Because of the diversity and the diverse cultures that we have, it's important that we work with our staff to make sure everybody is feeling invited and included and a part of the family where they work."

Also under his leadership, Henrico schools got national recognition for its major overhaul of the Student Code of Conduct. The school system reduced the suspension rate between the number of African American students with disabilities and white students.

"We've reduced out of school suspension by 24 percent and the number of kids only represents 1 percent of our student population," said Dr. Kinlaw.  "But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be looking at ways to keep kids in school."

Kinlaw says he hopes the next leader will put students and staff first. He says he's looking forward to sleeping in on snow days, spending time with his wife and enjoying the sites around the Richmond area.

The Henrico School Board's special meeting on the search for the superintendent will take place in the auditorium of the New Bridge Learning Center, 5915 Nine Mile Road, Henrico, Virginia.

The school board will be joined by representatives of the Virginia School Boards Association to organize and plan the search process for a new superintendent of schools.

The meeting is open to the public and interested citizens are invited to attend.  There will not be an opportunity for public comments at the Feb. 13 special meeting, however, public input will be a crucial piece of the search process.  Please be assured that several opportunities for public input will be scheduled as plans are organized.

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