Rochelle Cox started in her new role as the Minneapolis Public Schools interim superintendent today. Cox has worked in the district for 25 years with a focus on special education.
In a press conference this morning, Cox said her major goals for the upcoming year are to implement the district’s strategic plan, honor the commitments made with the district’s unions, and rebuild trust and relationships.
Cox said her commitment to rebuilding trust with people includes communicating well and “enjoying our work together.”
During her time as interim superintendent, Cox said she plans to be out in the community and in the schools.
“We need to be where our families and our students are. I’m going to be shopping at Cub down the street,’” Cox said.
The district released a video this morning that introduces Cox to the community. “I want people to know me personally,” Cox said of the video. “Because I think that’s where trust begins.”
“I want people to feel very comfortable communicating with myself and our staff.” Cox said.
Cox referred to her leadership style as “distributive” and shared an example of what that looks like. When the Minnesota Department of Education contacted her about African American students being five times more likely to be identified as emotionally or behaviorally disabled, she immediately thought, “How am I going to fix this?”
“It was at that time I realized that alone, as white female leader in our district, it was not for me to solve,” Cox said.
Cox brought together families, students, experts in our field, and staff to develop strategies to address the disparity. When she left that leadership role, the ratio had dropped to African American students being 1.5 times more likely to be identified as emotionally or behaviorally disabled.
Cox also expressed her willingness to work with the state government, which won't be a new experience for her.
"I've had a lot of experience with our legislative agenda here at MPS because fully funding special education has been a big part of that agenda," Cox said. She has also worked with the legislation on mental health supports.
"I am very comfortable in that advocating role," Cox said.
Cox’s position is for one calendar year. One of her goals is to create conditions that set up the permanent superintendent for success. Cox did not confirm whether she would apply for the permanent position, as she said her focus is on the next 365 days.