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Louisiana education dept. turnover high under new chief

July 26, 2021 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — State education leaders cite multiple possible factors behind the high employee turnover at Louisiana’s Department of Education.

The Advocate reports that in April, May and June a total of 43 of 529 employees left the department.

State Superintendent Cade Brumley, who has led the department for a little over a year, notes that there have been employment shakeups around the country resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Admittedly, I have focused more on supporting our 1,700 schools through the most challenging year in history rather than warm and fuzzies in my own agency,” Brumley added.

The president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Sandy Holloway, says the turnover is likely part of natural attrition when an agency’s leadership changes. She also said it mirrors a national trend of pandemic era turnover.

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“I feel that what you are seeing at the department is a combination of natural attrition, the transition that comes with most state agency leadership changes and a national trend of increased resignations as we inch closer to being post pandemic,” Sandy Holloway, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, said in a text message to The Advocate.

Jim Garvey, the longest-serving member of BESE said the issue has been discussed among board members and with Brumley. He said officials believe a variety of circumstances have led to the large number of departures.

“Any administration takes time to work out the kinks,” said Alexis Pritchard, who recently left the department, where she had served as deputy chief of staff for the executive office. “For this administration that is incredibly difficult to do through a global pandemic.”

Pritchard, a resident of St. Bernard Parish, said she left her state office for the only job that could have convinced her to do so -- director of communications for the St. Bernard Parish School District.