School Board approves appointment of new DEI director

PUSD appointed Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard as its new Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in December 2021

The PUSD Board of Education on Wednesday night unanimously approved the appointment of Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard as its new Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In April 2021, Dharini Rasiah was appointed by the Board to the newly created position, but stepped down before the start of the 2021-2022 school year. The district said it received over 150 applications after re-posting the opening in September; five applicants were ultimately interviewed by a panel consisting of 21 members representing classified staff, teachers, administrators, high school students, members of PADC and PREC, and the Board.

Vanden Wyngaard, who attended the meeting via Zoom from Albany, New York, where she currently resides, was selected from 150 candidates and will lead PUSD’s effort to implement its goals and actions in regards to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives across the district. She received a warm welcome from the Board, who were united in their support and enthusiasm for her appointment.

“I am excited for this opportunity to be a part of the Piedmont community and to help PUSD achieve its goals involving this important work,” said Vanden Wyngaard in a statement. “I can’t wait to get started working with these amazing students and educators and build on the momentum that’s already in place.”

Dr. “V,” as she is referred to in a memo to the Board, earned a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Kent State University and joined the Ohio State Department of Education in 2000, working as assistant director in the Office of Professional Development and Regional School Improvement Services. She then served as a deputy superintendent at Paterson Public Schools in New Jersey from 2010-12, and as superintendent of schools at City School District in Albany, New York, from 2012-2016. (She resigned from the Albany district in 2016 in an apparent dispute with the school board, according to news reports from that time.) She worked as an assistant professor of educational leadership at the College of St. Rose in Albany from 2018 – 2021. According to her LinkedIn bio, she is also the CEO and founder of Equivisible, a consulting group founded in 2016 that works on diversity and equity issues for business and education entities.

“We are very fortunate to bring someone of Dr. Vanden Wyngaard’s caliber to Piedmont,” said PUSD Superintendent Randall Booker. “Her broad experience in education and proven track record of leadership and bringing people together will be a tremendous asset in what we are working to build throughout our district.”

“It quickly became clear during the interview process that Dr. Vanden Wyngaard had risen to the top of everyone’s first-choice candidate because of her depth of experience as an administrator and extensive background in curriculum work,” said PUSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Cheryl Wozniak. “We are thrilled to have her on the team and look forward to working with her in support of our students and staff.”

“The PUSD Board of Education is committed to providing an equitable environment for students and staff of all backgrounds,” said PUSD Board Trustee, Veronica Anderson Thigpen. “Dr. Vanden Wyngaard is a proven champion for our work toward that goal. Our District and community will benefit greatly from her knowledge and experience.”

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