Normandy hires East St. Louis native as new superintendent

A former principal of Sumner High School in St. Louis will be the next superintendent of the Normandy Schools Collaborative.

Michael Triplett, associate superintendent of learning services for Olathe Public Schools in Kansas, beat out two local finalists for the job.

Triplett, 53, grew up in East St. Louis and began his career as a substitute teacher in St. Louis public schools. He has also served as a school social worker and principal at several schools, including Sumner from 2015-2018, as well as assistant superintendent of the Riverview Gardens School District from 2019-2021.

“I have a wealth of experience in school turnaround,” Triplett said at a recent candidate forum. “All I know is helping struggling kids is helping struggling teachers. I’ve made a career out of being an administrator who cares about me, because I like standing in front of these children who are like me, the same fight. You must be able to identify with these children, these children must see you as a human being because you are in the trenches with them.

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Triplett earned a bachelor’s degree from Lane College, master’s degrees from Lindenwood, St. Louis University, and Webster University, and a doctorate in educational administration from Capella University. He is certified as a superintendent in Missouri.

The hire is the latest in a management reshuffle in Normandy. Triplett replaces Marcus Robinson, who resigned in June after serving two years without state superintendent certification, which is required for the district to return to full certification. Normandy paid Robinson $221,000 in severance pay to buy out his three-year contract, plus nearly $90,000 for Robinson’s pension.

The Department of National Education took over Normandy in 2014 and has since appointed members to the district’s Joint Executive Board. Last April, voters elected Christopher Petty and Harlan Hodge to the seven-member council as the district gradually returns to local control.

The Normandy Board of Directors hired Petty on November 29 to the newly created position of Associate Superintendent for Organizational Effectiveness at a salary of $176,000. Petty resigned the next day from his position as dean at Hazelwood North Middle School. Normandy’s other associate superintendent, chief financial officer Phil Pusateri, earned $140,272 in 2021.

Normandy officials did not respond to questions Friday about Petty’s new role and whether it violates board policy and state laws regarding conflicts of interest.

Vinita Park Mayor James McGee told the Normandy board at its October meeting that Petty is “both an expert on education and has clearly shown his understanding of the importance of community partnership… We would like to recommend that Dr. Petty play a greater role in the day-to-day running of the district to right the ship and help children achieve greater success.

In a public forum on Thursday for an update on Normandy, board chairman Ron Roberts said “we saw this as an opportunity to convince Dr Petty to answer the clarion call of the municipal partnership, that your talent is needed at the administrative level.”

Petty is no longer listed as a Normandy board member on the district’s website, but it is unclear when he resigned.

Missouri law requires a one-year waiting period before former elected or appointed board members can hold positions of influence with the same government agency. The law also includes a lifetime ban on employment related to serving as a board member of the same agency.

Normandy School Board policy states that “the district will not accept applications from board members, consider board members for employment, or decide to employ board members while they stay on the school board.”

A selection of 2022 photos by Laurie Skrivan, who has covered St. Louis from nearly every angle as a Post-Dispatch staff photographer since 1998. She won the 2017 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for Home and was a member of the Breaking 2015 News Photography Award given to St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographic staff.

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