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School District of Lancaster hires new superintendent

Dr. Rocky Torres, the assistant superintendent of student services for Seattle Public Schools in Seattle, will take over in July.
Credit: School District of Lancaster
Dr. Rocky Torres

LANCASTER, Pa. — The School District of Lancaster has a new superintendent.

The district's Board of Education announced Tuesday that Dr. Rocky Torres has been hired as the new district superintendent after a comprehensive search process that produced a significant number of diverse candidates.

Torres will begin his term on July 1, the Board said. Until then, the district will remain under the leadership of acting superintendent Mr. Matt Przywara.

The district's superintendent search process included a community-wide survey that received more than 1,300 unique responses and interviews and community forums with nearly 300 community members participating, the district said in its announcement. 

The feedback was then synthesized and compiled into a “leadership profile report” which focused on finding a superintendent who has:

  1. Proven success as a leader and manager
  2. A strong moral compass rooted in justice and equity
  3. Proven ability to improve student performance

“Every step of this process was driven by the board’s commitment to finding the best leader for the School District of Lancaster Community," said Board President Robin Goodson.

Torres is currently the assistant superintendent of student services for Seattle Public Schools in Seattle, Washington. 

A few of his career leadership accomplishments include:

As a district leader: 

  • Coordinating Professional Development and Learning for the Superintendent’s Extended Cabinet, and School Leaders on inclusion and the Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
  • Supporting and monitoring implementation and servicing for the departments of Special Education, Multilingual Education, Coordinated School Health and Advanced Learning.
  • Serving as a teaching and learning resource for the Student Services Division and community
  • Maintaining adequate staffing and resource allocation to ensure objectives of programs and services are achieved within budget
  • Creating specific conditions to actualize the Seattle Public Schools Strategic Plan and its focus on the elimination of opportunity gaps
  • Helping to lead a team to specifically address COVID-19 response, including the creation of a virtual learning plan and platform for the division
  • Assisted in the creation and implementation of a new admissions process to include a stronger DEI lens.

As a school leader: 

  • Member and team lead on the Equity and Inclusion Planning Team for the CMSD and the Men of Color Shaping Academics (MOCHA) recruitment and retention team for CMSD
  • Demonstrated double-digit gains in the number of Middle School students scoring proficient or higher on the Ohio State Test for Mathematics in one school year.
  • Increased Third Grade Reading Guarantee Passage rate from 86.8% to 97.2%, and eventually 100% within two school years of becoming Principal at Luis Muñoz Marín.
  • Increased the percentage of students reading on-track from off-track status in kindergarten - third grade from 0% to 30%.
  • Created the first cohort in the school’s history of Middle School students preparing to take Algebra 1 for High School credit.
  • Implemented one: one Chromebook program in Middle School, and iPad and Chromebook infused learning for preschool - fifth grade

Torres received his PhD in Education from Cleveland State University, a master’s in Education Leadership from Bank Street College in NY, a Master of Education with a bilingual and special education focus from City College of the CUNY system in New York, and a B.A. in Business Administration from Ohio Northern University.

"The Board is extremely grateful for the leadership of Mr. Przywara," the Board said in its announcement. "His ongoing commitment to the SDoL community has been stellar, and the Board will set aside a special time to show its appreciation more formally.  

"The Board would also like to thank our teachers, administrators, staff, students and parents for their feedback and support throughout this process."

Torres' contract will be officially approved at a Board meeting on March 7.

"After that meeting, the board will work on plans to introduce Dr. Torres to the Lancaster community, including multiple opportunities for everyone to meet the next leader of the School District of Lancaster," the Board said.

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