BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - She was here in January, but was not chosen as a superintendent finalist. Tuesday night, Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin will again be interviewed by school board members in East Baton Rouge. Earlier in the afternoon, she fielded questions from the community about what they want in the next school leader.
As Dr. Pitre-Martin made the rounds as a community luncheon, sponsored by VIPS (Volunteers in Public Schools) it almost felt like déjà vu.
"You're looking for a leader," she told the audience.
This time around, it's not just the superintendent candidates who are under pressure. Board members are being pushed to make the right choice, fast.
"I'm coming to this district to be superintendent of schools with a lot in my head," Pitre-Martin said. For her, the opportunity in East Baton Rouge came at the right time. Raised in Eunice, Louisiana, she says it's time to come home.
A small crowd was at Druscilla Seafood, to hear from the candidate and ask questions. Some said the empty chairs dotting the room proves the lack of priority being placed on district. One parent who has two children in the school system wanted examples of things Pitre-Martin has seen in her years as an educator that would allow this school system to make gains.
A local realtor asked how Pitre-Martin plans to improve the image of the school system.
"We drove by a school; one of the letters was missing on sign outside. And I remember thinking, oh. That's one of the details that drives people's perception," she said. But she says it's addressing the larger issues that will show the community the district is moving forward. "We're going to have to show data points that are moving upward, that our test scores improving. Our graduation rates improving...our ACT participation is improving."
One question WAFB asked Pitre-Martin, why she is still interested in the position after not being chosen last time. She was a semi-finalist for superintendent in the school boards first search; members failed to select her as a finalist. She said she truly believes that she can make a difference and that she is a match.
Wednesday the system will interview the second superintendent candidate, Bernard Taylor. His formal interview is set for 5 p.m. at the school board. VIPS will also have a luncheon at 11:30 for Taylor as well, where community members can meet the candidate and ask questions one-on-one.