Legislation set to be introduced this week would put a two-year limit on state control over any school district in Rhode Island. Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Providence) said Friday she plans to introduce the legislation on Tuesday.

The state takeover of the Providence schools began in November of 2019 and is expected to last five years. 

In the case of the Providence schools, the clock would start ticking after the legislation is adopted. If approved by this summer, that would mean an end to the state takeover at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. 

“I believe that a long drawn out takeover of a school system is not good,” said Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Providence) in an interview Friday. Goodwin said she plans to introduce the legislation during the session Tuesday. 

“These school systems belong to the local cities and towns,” Goodwin said. 

The announcement follows days of controversy and criticism of school leaders, after the arrest of Olayinka Alege, an administrator hired during the takeover. Alege was charged with the assault of a minor last week. 

On Friday, the state education department announced Providence Superintendent Harrison Peters agreed to step down, two days after State Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green called for his resignation.

Whether the legislation moves forward or not, Goodwin said she expects there will be more oversight by state lawmakers of the Providence turnaround effort. Last week, both Peters and Infante-Green appeared before the Senate Oversight Committee. Goodwin said she has talked with other lawmakers about holding more hearings. 

“We need it,” Goodwin said. “We're going to have to keep a careful eye on how this takeover is progressing.”

In addition, Goodwin plans to introduce legislation requiring elected school boards in cities with four-year election cycles. That would transform the Providence school board into an elected body. Currently, members are appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. 

School Board President Nick Hemond said he agrees that the body needs to change. 

“The current system is not working,” Hemond said in an interview Friday. “The vision or direction tends to change,” he said, depending on mayoral administrations.

However, Hemond believes an entirely elected board would over-politicize the body, and an at-large election system could skew to power to the east side of the city. 

He recommends spreading out appointments among local and state officials, to six-year terms without reappointments. Hemond has served on the board since 2011, and plans to step down this year.