Carol Johnson tapped for top job at Boston Public Schools

BOSTON (AP) - Boston is looking south for help in reinvigorating its public school system.

The city is expected to announce Tuesday that it has tapped Memphis school superintendent Carol Johnson to fill the same job in Boston, according to Mayor Thomas Menino.

Johnson won acclaim for helping bring back a failing system in Memphis and has overseen a school system twice the size of Boston's since 2003.

Menino said Johnson was the best of several finalists to fill the job leading the city's 57,000 student school system.

He pointed to Johnson's success in improving the performance of minority students and her reputation as a superintendent who works with parents and community leaders.

School systems across Massachusetts have struggled to close a persistent racial gap with white and Asian students scoring better than black and Hispanic students.

"She'll give us the leadership we need in these schools," Menino told the Boston Sunday Globe. "I think she'll bring us to the next level. We're very fortunate to attract a talent as strong as Carol."

Johnson will become the second black woman to lead Boston schools. The choice of Johnson ends an 18-month search to replace former superintendent Thomas W. Payzant, who retired in June 2006 after 11 years.

The city had initially selected Manuel J. Rivera, former superintendent of schools in Rochester, N.Y., for the job. He would have been the first Hispanic superintendent of Boston schools.

But Rivera decided in January to instead become New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's top education official. Boston was forced to renew the search.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)