After a months-long search, the Providence Schools have a new superintendent. Harrison Peters is the outgoing Deputy Superintendent for the Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida. Peters will take the helm in Rhode Island’s largest district. The previous full-time superintendent Chris Maher left the district in 2019 and interim leaders have been serving since.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Education, Peters has worked for the past two decades in education as classroom teacher, principal and senior administrator. He’s worked in several of the country's largest school districts. Hillsborough County includes the Tampa schools. The county educates more than 200,000 students. Providence has a student population of 25,000.The number of teachers in Hillsborough is roughly the same as the number of total teachers in Rhode Island.

Peters takes over the Providence schools at a time of upheaval. The state Education Department intervened in the schools in November, and now effectively controls every aspect of the district, from academics to personnel. Standardized test scores along with an independent report by Johns Hopkins University painted a grim picture of the district, where proficiency rates in math and English are in the single digits for some schools. The state Education Department referred to Peters as a “turnaround superintendent.”

The Providence schools takeover was initiated by state education commissioner Angelica Infante-Green, who came to Rhode Island from New York last year after the departure of former state education head Ken Wagner. Both Infante-Green and Peters are part of the organization Chiefs for Change, a nonprofit education leadership group founded by Jeb Bush.