Executive director of inclusion, engagement and belonging in Lawrence school district resigning; position being evaluated

photo by: Contributed

Cynthia Johnson

Cynthia Johnson, the executive director of inclusion, engagement and belonging, is resigning from the Lawrence school district at the end of this month, according to a news release Thursday from the district.

Johnson is completing her fifth year of service to the district, including two years as interim principal at Lawrence High School.

“Dr. Johnson has made a positive impact on the lives of our scholars, amplifying their voice and working to provide representation, access, meaningful participation, and positive outcomes for every student,” Superintendent Anthony Lewis said in the release. “Her leadership in ensuring systems are in place to advance equity in education will continue to serve our school community for years to come.”

Johnson joined the district in 2019 as interim principal of LHS and helped lead the school’s $50 million construction project.

She transitioned to the districtwide role in 2021, including serving as the administrative liaison to the Equity Advisory Council, District Student Equity Council and Building Equity Teams. She oversaw the development of an equity impact analysis tool used to guide decision making. She also assisted in opening the first public Montessori school in Kansas in 2022, at New York Elementary.

“The past five years have been so fulfilling through all the ups, downs, and challenges,” Johnson said in the release. “One of the highlights of my time in Lawrence Public Schools has been getting to know the students, staff, and families of Lawrence High School.”

Johnson began her education career in 1987, working in K-12 schools in rural, suburban and urban environments as a teacher and coach and in a variety of administrative roles. Since 1993, she has served as an educational consultant, working with districts across the country. She plans to extend her work and research “focusing on school connectedness and belongingness, the effective education of students living in poverty, school, family, and community partnerships; and disrupting and dismantling systems that perpetuate poor educational outcomes for marginalized, underserved, and underrepresented youth,” according to the release.

“Everywhere I go, I will continue to let my light shine. Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!” she said in the release.

The administration is evaluating the position of executive director of inclusion, engagement and belonging as part of the budget planning process, the release said.

The title was new with Johnson. At the time she was hired for it, in May 2021, her salary was $122,000, as the Journal-World reported. Her salary for 2023-2024 is $130,977, according to the district.

The Lawrence school board approved an Equity Policy in 2021, directing the superintendent to develop and implement systemwide equity and justice strategies. Prior to that, the district had multiple educators leading equity work and contracted with a national consultant, Pacific Educational Group, for resources, training and support.


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