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DPS board picks Dunbar grad David Lawrence as new superintendent

A man wearing a blue suit, pink and blue tie, a white shirt and glasses.
Dayton Public Schools Superintendent David Lawrence

Dayton Public Schools has a new superintendent.

On Tuesday, the board of education unanimously selected David Lawrence — a Dayton native and Dunbar High School graduate with more than 30 years of public education experience.

“On top of the dedication that I believe he will bring to this position, I must say that it is exciting to have a DPS graduate now serving in the role of superintendent,” Board President Will Smith said in a statement.

Lawrence stepped in as the district's interim superintendent in July 2023 after the then superintendent Elizabeth Lolli left to lead the Lakota School District.

Lawrence was formerly business manager for Dayton schools. Since leading the district, he has created employee teams and focused efforts on increasing student engagement.

Lawrence said one of his top priorities is to increase the student population by making the district more attractive to area families.

"We used to have a district with 66,000 kids," Lawrence said. "Now we’re down to about (13,000). We used to compete across the board in all extracurricular activities, we don’t do that anymore. We used to have a district where people wanted to send their kids, now they’re leaving."

He plans to to accelerate customer service, saying families are leaving because they aren't happy.

"They’re not happy with how we’re treating them," Lawrence said. "So we want to keep people here. We’re going to retain employees and students.”

Lawrence believes recent initiatives by his team will help the Dayton schools reach that goal and others, including transparency with families.

“I’ve got a great team, they really support the work we do," he said. "I want to be there, to be the center of that team, but also someone who can help move the district forward.”

The board and district will hold Lawrence accountable for progress and any missteps, DPS Board Member Chrisondra Goodwine said.

“When the workforce is strong, the children will be the ultimate beneficiaries," Goodwine said. "I am excited we are leading into the district with the first individual from this district as our superintendent, and we are going to challenge him.”

The other two candidates were Alesia Smith, chief of schools for Cincinnati Public Schools; and H. Allen Smith II, school system leader from Mansfield, Texas (outside Dallas).

Lawrence earned a Bachelor’s from the University of Cincinnati in finance, along with two Master’s and a Ph.D. from Antioch University. His Master’s degrees are in educational leadership and educational philosophy, and his Ph.D. is in leadership and change.

He has been a teacher, principal and administrator in several Dayton and Northmont schools, and Dayton Regional STEM School.

Kathryn Mobley is an award-winning broadcast journalist, crafting stories for more than 30 years. She’s reported and produced for TV, NPR affiliate and for the web. Mobley also contributes to several area community groups. She sings tenor with World House Choir (Yellow Springs), she’s a board member of the Beavercreek Community Theatre and volunteers with two community television operations, DATV (Dayton) and MVCC (Centerville).

Email: kmobley@wyso.org
Cell phone: (937) 952-9924