Leadership Team

  • Dr. James Gray

    Dr. James Gray


    Dr. James Gray is the superintendent of Jefferson Parish Schools (JP Schools), which is the largest and most diverse public school system in Louisiana. JP Schools is home to approximately 47,000 students and serves 74 schools, including two STEM magnets, two Art magnets, eight Advanced Studies, two Spanish Immersions, and six charter holders. 

    In his first three years as superintendent, Dr. Gray led JP Schools through a global pandemic and recovery from one of the most powerful hurricanes on record for Louisiana. During his tenure, the district became a one-to-one district for the first time, providing a device and connectivity for every student. He developed Jefferson Summer Bridge, an innovative summer enrichment program to combat learning loss. He initiated the launch of an early literacy strategic plan to ensure all students can read by the end of third grade. He established an Early Warning System to identify and better support students at risk for meeting important milestones.

    For a full biography, visit Dr.Gray's page.

    photo of Tricia Adams

    Patricia Adams

    Chief Legal Counsel

    As the chief legal counsel for the Jefferson Parish Public School System, Patricia Adams advises central office and school-based administrators regarding a wide variety of legal and policy issues that arise daily in the K through 12 setting. Adams works closely with the Superintendent and other unit leaders to ensure compliance with state and federal education and employment laws. Adams represents the district before state and federal agencies and prepares contracts and other legal documents. Adams has a B.A. in political science from Tulane University and a J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law. Adams has practiced law in the New Orleans area since 1996 with an emphasis on legal issues related to employment and education. Prior to joining the district in 2012, Adams served for several years as the chief legal officer for the University of New Orleans.

    photo of Sarah Caruso

    Sarah Caruso

    Chief Financial Officer

    Sarah Caruso is responsible for the overall fiscal management of the Jefferson Parish Public School System. As the Chief Financial Officer, she oversees the management of the district’s multi-million dollar budget and directs and coordinates the budget & accounting, management information system, and payroll departments. Prior to joining JPPSS in 2015, Caruso was a financial leader in the private sector for seven years. As a supervising senior auditor for Carr, Riggs & Ingram, CPAs, Caruso worked with local parish governments, school boards, and charter schools. Caruso received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting and her Masters of Professional Accountancy from the University of Southern Mississippi.

    Ladinah Carter

    LaDinah Carter

    Chief District Affairs Officer

    Ms. LaDinah Carter is a dedicated educational leader, whose unwavering commitment has illuminated the path for students within JP Schools for nearly two decades. Most recently serving as the Executive Director of School Support, she orchestrated educational excellence across 14 high schools. With precision and empathy, Ms. Carter has led diverse teams of district-level leaders, guiding them in district initiatives spanning from curriculum innovation and instructional mastery to workforce development and career readiness. Ms. Carter exemplifies homegrown talent within our organization, having received her education from the Jefferson Parish School System and graduating with pride as a member of the Class of 1996 from John Ehret High School. Her educational resume is a testament to her relentless pursuit of knowledge and advancement.

    Ms. Carter started her career as a high school science teacher in Jefferson Parish, and through hard work and commitment, she has progressed steadily, taking on increasing levels of responsibility and making significant contributions to the students of Jefferson Parish. Ms. Carter embodies the spirit of growth and development that we strive to cultivate within our organization, and she stands as a beacon of inspiration, illuminating the path towards a brighter, more inclusive future for all learners.


    Patrick Jenkins

    Chief Operations Officer

    Patrick Jenkins has over 32 years of educational experience and is a product of Louisiana public schools. He most recently served as the superintendent of St. Landry Parish Schools for seven years. He has served as a teacher and principal and also served four years as the Director of Operations in Zachary Community School District. In this capacity, he oversaw facilities, maintenance, construction, athletics, transportation, energy management, safety and risk management, the child nutrition program, and various other duties and responsibilities. He has his Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Mathematics Education from Southern University and a Master of Education Degree in Administration and Supervision from Southern University as well.

    photo of Donna Joseph

    Donna Joseph

    Chief Human Resources Officer

    Donna W. Joseph is a lifelong resident of Jefferson Parish, a product of the Jefferson Parish Public School System, and proud graduate of John Ehret High School.  Joseph has been a servant of public education for 23 years. Her career started in the entertainment and television industry, which led her to becoming a local business owner. In the early 90’s she decided to follow her dream of becoming a teacher. During her tenure as an educator, Ms. Joseph has served in various capacities: teacher, department chairperson, Title I team leader, bully prevention program director, testing coordinator, assistant principal, recruiter, HR administrator, HR director, and management trustee on the Jefferson Federation of Teachers Health and Welfare Fund Board. Joseph holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in economics and a master’s degree in educational leadership.

    Mary GartonMARY GARTON

    Chief of Staff

    Mary K. Garton is the Chief of Staff for Jefferson Parish Schools. Mary has significant experience in education and education leadership. She has worked in Louisiana public school systems for over 20 years and has an additional ten years of non-profit leadership experience. Mary was a middle school teacher in Jefferson Parish and other Louisiana public school systems and previously served Jefferson Parish Schools as Chief of Staff and Chief Human Capital Officer. She recently served in senior central leadership roles at NOLA Public Schools. Mary is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and the University of New Orleans, with a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction and Mathematics. She is currently enrolled in the Doctorate in Executive Leadership Program at the University of Holy Cross. 

    Chief of SchoolsAjit "AJ" Pethe

    Chief of Schools

    Ajit “A.J.” Pethe is responsible for a wide spectrum of duties designed to remove barriers and ensure student access to a quality education. These include areas such as student exceptionalities, wellness, and mental health. Before joining JP Schools in 2019, Pethe served as Assistant Superintendent for St. Charles Parish Public Schools where he held oversight of many functions, including special education. Pethe is a graduate of Grace King High and holds both a bachelor’s and master’s from the University of New Orleans. As a Jefferson Parish resident, his children attend JP Schools. A former middle school teacher, Pethe also served as principal of Luling Elementary. The school advanced its School Performance Score (SPS) from 75.1 to 102.3 under his leadership. In 2014, Pethe was named Louisiana’s State Principal of the Year. He also holds the title of National Distinguished Principal from the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). Pethe is bilingual and holds a Level 3 Leader endorsement from the Louisiana Department of Education – the highest certification available to Louisiana educators.

    Laura Roussel

    Laura Roussel

    Chief Academic Officer

    Laura Roussel recently worked as Executive Director of School Services and Innovation for The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) and has had a multitude of educational leadership experiences. Roussel worked in a variety of roles at the national, state, district, and school level as well as in higher education. Her work began in her role as a classroom teacher and further developed as she began working in and with schools with the greatest need for reform across a national landscape. Over the last 23 years, Roussel’s experience across the vast landscape has allowed for a deep understanding for all stakeholders and their critical role in implementing practical high-quality reform strategies at every level when seeking to improve schools. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Louisiana State University, her Master’s Degree from Southeastern University, and is currently enrolled in a Doctoral program at Southeastern University.