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Who is the new superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools?

Roberts will replace interim superintendent Matt Smith, who filled the role after former superintendent Dr. Thomas Ahart resigned.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa's largest school district officially has a new leader. 

The Des Moines Public School Board voted Tuesday to appoint Dr. Ian Roberts as the district's new superintendent. 

Roberts will replace interim superintendent Matt Smith, who filled the role after former superintendent Dr. Thomas Ahart resigned. 

According to a press release from the district, Roberts was chosen through a "comprehensive national search." 

“When considering candidates, the Board was looking for educational experience, academic excellence and a passion for innovation and inspiration, and we found those qualities and more in Dr. Roberts,” said Board Chair Teree Caldwell-Johnson in the press release. “Dr. Roberts’ focus on creating equitable experiences for students to thrive, paired with his commitment to continuous improvement, creates an exciting opportunity for our students, staff and community.” 

Roberts most recently served as superintendent of Millcreek Township School District in Erie, Penn., where he has worked for three years. He announced his resignation as Millcreek Schools' superintendent last week

"After recent reflections, it is time for me to move on and continue my work in a different community," Roberts said in a release to Millcreek, according to ABC affilite JET 24. "While I will miss Millcreek Township greatly, I am excited to take on new challenges and opportunities in my career to serve students, educators and a community."

Before his time at Millcreek Township, Roberts served as superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools High School Network. 

The proud child of immigrant parents from Guyana, Roberts grew up in Brooklyn, New York. 

He received a bachelors degree from Coppin State University before heading to St. John's University, where he received a master's degree in education and an Ed.D. in Urban Educational Leadership. 

Roberts' two-decades-long educational career has led him to positions in cities across the east coast, including Baltimore, Washington D.C., New York City.

As an educator, Roberts aims to prioritize issues of equity and inclusion, as well as innovation and instructional excellence. 

“Leadership is about meeting people where they are and helping them to become even better, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead a strong organization like Des Moines Public Schools using the Board’s goals and guardrails to achieve educational and operational excellence,” Roberts said in a press release. “I want to thank the Board for this opportunity, and I look forward to listening, learning and leading with input from my school community to increase opportunities for all students using empathy, cultural competency and continuous improvement to chart our path.”

Outside of his work in schools, Roberts has written several books and publications about leadership, empathy and cultural responsiveness. 

Prior to his time as an educator, Roberts competed in the 2000 Olympics as a track and field athlete. 

His current hobbies include hunting, reading and spending time with family and friends. 

Roberts' tenure as DMPS superintendent begins on July 1.

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