Search for New Permanent APS Superintendent

The School Board is conducting a nationwide search for a new superintendent to replace Dr. Patrick Murphy, who retired from APS on September 1, 2019. Cintia Johnson was appointed Interim Superintendent to lead the school division during the 2019-20 school year as the search is underway. Over the next several months, the School Board’s most important job is to hire a new superintendent who can build on the division’s positive culture of learning and promote excellence and equity for all students.

In December 2019, the School Board selected BWP & Associates (BWP), an executive search firm specializing in the recruitment of superintendents, to assist with the national search. An important part of the process is gathering input from the community on the qualities you would like to see in the new leader.  Please check this web page for ongoing updates on the search process, including the community engagement schedule, a timeline, resources and FAQ. 

Read the vacancy announcement and learn more about the application process

Community Engagement 

On Jan. 8, 2020, School Board Chair Tannia Talento shared a letter with the APS community about the Community Forums that will gather input on the characteristics the new Superintendent should posses.
The letter is available in the following languages: English | Espanol | Amharic | Arabic | Mongolian

Open Community Forums: Come share your input to help build the leadership profile for the next Superintendent! 

An important step in this process is to engage with students, staff, families and community members to identify the characteristics you would like to see in the new superintendent and to develop an in-depth profile for the position. The School Board invites all members of the community to participate in a meeting facilitated by BWP. We hope that you can attend one of the following forums, which are open to everyone:

  • Wednesday, January 22 at 7 p.m. (Spanish)Kenmore Middle School, 200 S. Carlin Springs Road, Black Box Theater
  • Wednesday, January 22 at 7 p.m., Washington-Liberty High School, 1301 N. Stafford Street, Cafeteria
  • Saturday, January 25 at 10 a.m., Wakefield High School, 1325 S. Dinwiddie Street, Cafeteria
  • Saturday January 25 at 10 a.m., Dorothy Hamm Middle School, 4100 Vacation Lane, Cafeteria

Focus Groups: Focus groups will be conducted with staff, students, parents, and community groups the week of January 20. Invitations are being sent for those sessions the week of January 6.  View the Full Schedule Here.

Survey: A survey regarding the Superintendent Search will also be available from January 21 through February 2. The survey will be posted in five languages on this webpage and made available in print.


The following timeline will be updated throughout the process to keep you informed.

July 2019
  • Appointment of Interim Superintendent Cintia Johnson
  • Develop Request for Proposal (RFP) for executive search firms
August 2019
  • Finalize and issue the RFP for an executive search firm (Mid-August)
  • RFP issued on the APS Procurement web page on Monday, August 19
September/October 2019
  • RFP re-issued on the the APS Procurement web page on Monday, September 23
  • Search firm proposals due on Friday, October 11
  • Review search firm proposals
November 2019
  • In-person interviews conducted with short list of executive search firm candidates
  • Notice of Intent to Award posted on November 26
December 2019
January 2020
  • Advertising and active recruitment
  • January 8: Community engagement schedule announced
  • January 21-February 2: Online surveys posted to APS Engage website to receive input
  • January 22-25: Consultants hold Community Forums (open) & Focus Groups Meetings (by invitation) to receive input. Full schedule here.
  • January 22, 7:00-8:30 PM Open Community Forums:
    • Kenmore Middle School, 200 S. Carlin Springs Road
    • Washington-Liberty High School, 1301 N. Stafford St.
  • January 25, 10:00-11:30 AM Open Community Forums:
    • Wakefield High School, 1325 S. Dinwiddie Street
    • Dorothy Hamm Middle School, 4100 Vacation Lane
February 2020
  • Advertising and active recruitment
  • February 6: Search Firm presents Community Engagement Report at Board Meeting
March 2020
  • Advertising and active recruitment
  • March 10: Applications due to consultants
April 2020
  • Candidate review and selection


Superintendent Search Student Announcement (Spanish & English) (1/15/20)

Letter to Students for Superintendent Search (1/13/20)

Student Flyer – Superintendent Search (1/13/20)

Stakeholder Focus Groups Schedule (1/10/20)

Superintendent Search Flyer (1/10/20)

Community Engagement Press Release (1/8/20)

Superintendent Job Opening Announcement (12/19/19) 

Signed Contract with Executive Search Firm, BWP & Associates (12/10/19)

Request for Proposal for Executive Search Firm to Aid with National Search (Updated) (9/23/19)

Request for Proposal for Executive Search Firm to Aid with National Search (8/19/19)

Interim Superintendent Appointment Announcement (7/30/19)

School Board Chair Update on Search Process (7/1/19)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the process for selecting a new permanent superintendent?

The School Board is approaching the search in phases to address immediate needs and long-term priorities. The first phase was to identify an interim leader to provide continuity and leadership in the 2019-20 school year as we execute the search for a permanent superintendent. Cintia Johnson was named interim superintendent on July 30, 2019.

On December 10, 2019, the School Board selected BWP & Associates to assist with the search process. The process will include national advertising and recruitment, community meetings and surveys to gather input on qualities sought in the next leader, and School Board interviews and selection.

Why was the RFP for an executive search firm reissued?

The Board issued the RFP to hire a search firm on August 19, with proposals due on September 9, and we received three proposals. Unfortunately, all three proposals were considered non-responsive. Therefore, we reissued the RFP on Monday, September 23. BWP & Associates was hired in December as a result of the RFP process.

How will you solicit feedback from the community and how can I get involved?

The School Board has provided a variety of ways to give input because hearing from all stakeholders about the leadership characteristics they value most is a critical part of the search process. In January 2020, BWP consultants will facilitate focus group sessions and community forums to gather input from the community. Community members unable to attend meetings will have the opportunity to participate in a survey that will open on January 21. The community forums and meetings are planned for the week of January 20. Details provided above.

How will my input be used? 

Stakeholder input will be used to inform the School Board’s selection of a new leader who meets the needs of the Arlington school community and, most importantly, the needs of students. BWP will present a Community Engagement Report summarizing community input at the School Board meeting on February 6 and develop an in-depth profile for the position to inform the recruitment and selection process.

When do you expect to have a new permanent superintendent in place? 

Virginia law requires that the division superintendent shall be appointed by the school board within 180 days after a vacancy occurs and allows for one request for an extension. We are moving forward with this timeline in mind and have filed for an extension to allow the time necessary to find a highly qualified leader whose experience, values and background meets the needs of our school community. We anticipate hiring a new leader in Spring 2020.

Comments or questions? Please submit a comment through the Engage online comment form or write to

Please be aware that correspondence through email is subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This means that your correspondence may be made public if (1) it deals with APS business, and (2) someone requests it – even if you have asked that your message be kept confidential. Only a few topics are exempt from the Virginia disclosure requirements such as communications about identifiable students and personnel information about individual employees.