Detroit Public Schools Appoints New Chief Innovation Officer and Director of Charter Schools

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Roy S. Roberts today announced the appointments of Natasha Baker as Chief Innovation Officer and Kisha Verdusco as Director of Charter Schools.

“If you always do things the way they have always been done, it’s doubtful that you’ll see any significant change,” said Roberts. “Both Natasha and Kisha possess a wealth of relevant experience that will assist Detroit Public Schools in thinking outside the traditional framework as we accelerate our efforts to achieve educational excellence in the district.”

Baker, who most recently served as Chief Schools Officer for DPS’ Detroit Rising College Prep Schools, joined the DPS team in August 2012. As Chief Innovation Officer, she will use her experience to create innovative strategies and data-driven urban school models that drive student achievement in college-going school cultures. This work will include a continued focus on DPS’ portfolio of nine self-governed Detroit Rising College Prep Schools, which she helped open this school year.

An educator who began her career as a teacher in Compton, California, Baker has extensive leadership experience in urban educational settings. Prior to joining DPS, she was a teacher and dean in Brooklyn and Queens, New York. She also served as a principal and later as the Chief Academic Officer of four k-8 open admissions schools in post-Katrina New Orleans as a result of her participation in the Building Excellent Schools Fellowship, a highly selective Boston-based non-profit charter school leadership training program.

In her new role as Director of Charter Schools, Verdusco will continue her efforts to ensure that all DPS charters are high performing schools through strong oversight and accountability.

Verdusco served as Deputy Director of DPS’ Charter Schools Office for the last year and a half. In that role, she was instrumental in strengthening the district’s charter authorizing practices by leading the implementation of new academic standards and progress measures and increasing school and board accountability. Verdusco also strengthened the oversight of its schools, boards and management companies. Prior to joining the Charter Schools Office, she led the district’s plan to convert five DPS neighborhood schools into turnaround charter schools that opened in 2011.

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