By Jessica Williams, The Lens staff writer |

In an unexpected move Tuesday night, Orleans Parish Schools Superintendent Darryl Kilbert announced his retirement after more than 30 years as an educator in the city.


Kilbert told members of the Orleans Parish School Board at a Tuesday night meeting. Kilbert, 55, cited a medical condition as his reason for his retirement, effective June 30.

He read a resignation letter to the board and to the audience, breaking into tears when thanking board members for the chance to serve.

“I appreciate the opportunities that have been given to me, and your professional guidance and support,” he said. “I assure you that I will complete any outstanding projects and business affairs before my departure.”

Before being elevated to superintendent, Kilbert worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and area superintendent since starting his career in 1979. He’s been praised by parents and students for his no-nonsense approach, most notably when he took the reins at Alcee Fortier High School in the mid 1990s and told nearly 300 low-performing and unruly students to shape up or get out. The result was increased graduation rates, improved grades, and better classroom attendance.

After working as a principal at George Washington Carver High School in 2004, Kilbert was promoted to an area superintendent of schools by former Superintendent Anthony Amato, where he remained until his appointment to interim superintendent, and finally to superintendent, in 2006.

Board president Thomas Robichaux thanked Kilbert for his dedication throughout his years in the superintendent spot.

“I think I speak for the whole board when I say we applaud all of your success here,” Robichaux said. Audience members followed his statement with a standing ovation.

It’s not yet clear whom the board will appoint as Kilbert’s replacement, but Kilbert offered them some advice.

“Please take into consideration in your selection…someone who’s qualified, innovative, but more importantly, someone who understands the culture of this community and has the best interests of the students in the community,” he said.

Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams stays on top of the city's loosely organized collection of public schools, with a special emphasis on charter schools. In 2011 she was recognized by the Press Club of New Orleans for her...