Orleans Parish School Board President John Brown Sr. speaks with Mary D. Coghill Charter School supporters after a vote to keep the school under current leadership failed in 2019. (Marta Jewson/The Lens)

Orleans Parish School Board member John Brown Sr. announced his intention to resign from the board this week in a Monday afternoon press release after learning his daughter is among a group of candidates being considered to replace outgoing NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis, Jr. 

In a statement, Brown said he was taking the step of resigning to avoid a conflict of interest because the board is guiding the search process — along with a contracted search firm — and members will ultimately have to vote on Lewis’ replacement. 

“I have been informed by my daughter, Dr. Jawan Brown-Alexander, that her application for superintendent was recommended by the search firm assisting OPSB to move on to the interview phase of the superintendent search,” Brown said in the emailed statement. 

“While I had previously recused myself from the process and have been advised that I could continue to do so, I personally believe that as my daughter is now a formal candidate for the superintendency of our schools, it is now only appropriate that I step aside from my position.”

The retired 30-year educator has represented District 1, covering a large portion of New Orleans East and the Lower 9th Ward, since he was appointed to take over the vacant position in 2015, replacing Ira Thomas, who resigned after being charged in a bribery scheme. Brown won the seat in the 2016 election and was reelected in 2020. 

The board’s search for a superintendent has been underway since Lewis announced in June that the 2021-22 school year would be his last. 

Last week, the board held a special meeting to learn about candidates from the search firm. Brown did not attend. The board voted to invite “one or more” candidates for an interview but did not name any of the recommended candidates.

“I have dedicated my entire adult life to my family, community, and the youth of New Orleans,” Brown said in the statement. “It has been a great honor to work on behalf of our young people as a teacher, coach, principal, mentor, and education leader.”

Brown served as board chair for three consecutive years. 

“Serving on the Orleans Parish School Board has been an incredible milestone in my service and I am so proud of many things we accomplished together, including during my time as School Board President.”

Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned...