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.
In addition, Gray launched the JP Schools Check Portal for financial transparency and accountability and conducted regular stakeholder engagement opportunities for stakeholders, including Listen & Learn Town Halls, Discovery Days, and meetings with six Superintendent Councils. This also included collaborating regularly with various community, business, and faith leaders to gather feedback, share progress, and garner support for district initiatives.
A key focus of Gray’s work included creating opportunities for students to excel at any level. Key initiatives included, the creation of Jefferson Virtual High School, a standalone virtual school for students who learn better in a virtual environment as a result of research from the pandemic. Additionally, he launched Star Academy, an innovative acceleration program for overage middle school students, and created Embark, an in-house teacher certification program to help combat teacher shortage.
With understanding the need for growing a workforce pipeline, Dr. Gray focused on increasing workforce development and higher education partnerships. This helped expand program offerings aligned with emerging sector data and provided students with the experience to establish a career after graduating from JP Schools. This set a new student record of earning over 10,000 Industry Based Certifications.
Continuing under Gray’s leadership in 2021, JP Schools was one of only 20 Louisiana school systems to increase its District Performance Score. In 2022, JP Schools District Performance Score saw the largest growth Jefferson Parish Schools saw in 10 years.
In 2023, as a part of the Infrastructure and Efficiency Plan, Gray, consolidated and closed seven schools to address aging facilities, decreased student enrollment, and staffing shortages. Additionally, he launched a new strategic plan, 2028: The Road to Transformation, Innovation, and Excellence to guide the district’s vision of success and align resources to the actions that will transform outcomes for students. That year, the Louisiana Association of School Executives and the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents named Gray Superintendent of the Year.
In his 29th year as an educator, Gray has previously served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and district administrator. He earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a master’s in education in Administration/ Principalship from Nicholls University. He holds a bachelor’s in Marketing from Grambling State University.