By Betsy Dolan
On a recent trip to Pflugerville, near Austin, Fort Bend ISD board president, Jim Rice and other district representatives met with community and school district leaders to make sure that the man they had tapped to lead the seventh largest school district in Texas was the real deal.
“We were visiting with the mayor and I asked him, ‘Who is the face of PISD?’ And he said, ‘The students are the face of PISD’, recalls Rice. “I was expecting him to say that Charles Dupre, the superintendent, was the face of the district but he surprised me.”
Dupre, 51, is the lone finalist for the top post at Fort Bend ISD after a unanimous vote of the school board March 20. He is expected to sign a contract next month, after a state-mandated waiting period, and assume the duties in May.
He will be returning to a district that is very familiar to him. Dupre worked as a certified public accountant in Houston before joining Fort Bend ISD’s business office in 1995. He eventually became the district’s Associate Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer.
“I didn’t get this job in this district at this time because I am a CPA,” Dupre said. “I believe that education is my calling. I am here to lead the district in a way that meets community expectations because everyone has a vested interest in the success of this district.”
While at PISD, Dupre was named regional superintendent of the year in 2012 and has received recognition for increasing college and career-readiness rates and improving leadership training.
“The first and biggest thing he did for us was to help us come together as a board and as a district,” said PISD board president Elva Gladney. “He created inclusive committees to help make recommendations that include all stakeholders so that the board has more information when we have to make our decisions.”
Born in Casablanca, Morocco, Dupre was adopted by an American family and raised near Springfield, Missouri. After his mother died, Dupre was sent to an orphanage to live for more than a decade.
“I have a special understanding for kids that have had it a little more rough in their lives,” Dupre said. “We have to make everything revolves around the kids so that high achieving students are moving up and low achieving students are moving up.”
After former superintendent,Timothy Jenney, retired last year, the district hired a firm to conduct a national search for a replacement. It received 60 applicants, eventually whittling the pool down to three semifinalists, Rice said. Each was interviewed five times.
“This is a process. It took longer than I thought it would take, and it can only be described as grueling,” Rice said.
When the board knew they were in agreement about Dupre, they invited the district’s 70 school principals and staff people to meet him which Rice called an unprecedented move.
“We did that because we wanted them to hear it from us. And it was our way of saying we value you and the role you play in our children’s lives.”
Dupre received his BBA with a major in Accounting from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, and Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Houston. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in educational leadership at Lamar University in Beaumont.