Education experts say that one of the major problems plaguing Providence’s public schools is it’s unclear who's leading whom.

Kenneth Wong teaches education policy at Brown University. 

“Who is in charge?” Wong said. “And what are the roles and responsibilities? We really need to clarify that.”

One major finding of the report is that, when it comes to governing the schools, there are “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Among the major players: a mayor, who some accuse of micro-managing; a superintendent, who many said lacks much formal authority; a city council, that readily admits it “over-complicates things”; and a school board, which, the report suggests, has a limited sense of what’s actually happening on the ground. 

For his part, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has said that his city’s schools require “transformational change.”

Public forums about the report continue this week during which students and parents talk about what’s wrong with the schools and what they want to see done. The report paints a picture of failing schools and unsafe buildings that are falling apart. Teachers reported lead paint, asbestos and constant leaks. Students reported having rodent traps stuck to their shoes. The worst conditions, the report says, “reduced season members of the review team to tears.” 

Wong says that before real change can take place in Providence’s schools, those governing bodies need to get together and figure out who’s in charge. 

The next public forum is this Thursday at 6 p.m., at Providence’s Career and Technical Academy, 41 Fricker St.