The Salt Lake City School District now has a new leader at the helm.

The Salt Lake City Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to select Elizabeth Grant as the district's superintendent.

"We are excited to welcome Dr. Grant back to the Salt Lake City School District," said Board President Nate Salazar. "Throughout this process, she continually stood out among the applicants to us, as well as the stakeholder committee."

Grant returns to the district after going through the K-12 education system at now-closed Rosslyn Heights Elementary, Wasatch Elementary, Bryant Junior High and East High School.

She also served as principal at Lowell Elementary and assistant principal at Edison Elementary School.

"I am completely invested in the success of Salt Lake City's children and youth," Grant said after her appointment. "In my career, I have seen education successes and challenges from multiple perspectives: as a public school, private school and university teacher; as an advocate and a researcher; as a leader in schools and education nonprofit organizations, and I have had a view of schools across the nation from the U.S. Department of Education."

The district said that applicants were evaluated by a stakeholder committee of more than 40 people made up of district students, parents, district employees and community leaders.

"This stakeholder feedback was invaluable to the board during two rounds of interviews and as they came to their final decision," the district said in a statement.

The decision comes after a tumultuous breakup between the district and its previous superintendent, Timothy Gadson III.

Gasdon, the first Black educator to lead a Utah school district, was placed on administrative leave in July after the district held a private meeting to discuss the "character, professional competence or physical or mental health of an individual, and/or deployment of security personnel, devices or systems," according to an agenda for that meeting.

Following months of speculation surrounding the circumstances behind Gadson being placed on leave, he resigned as district superintendent in September.

"Notwithstanding public speculation to the contrary, there has been no finding of any wrongdoing on the part of Dr. Gadson and no violation of law by either Dr. Gadson or the Salt Lake City School Board," said a statement released jointly by Gadson and the Salt Lake City Board of Education.

Then, in October, the board approved a separation agreement with Gadson to the tune of $200,000 that ended the "employment relationship" between Gadson and the school district while "still allowing for the ongoing provision of consulting services by Dr. Gadson."

The agreement didn't reveal any of the circumstances that led to Gadson being placed on leave.

Salt Lake City School District board members Bryce Williams, Nate Salazar and Mohamed Baayd listen to Elizabeth Grant Thursday after she was named as district superintendent.
Salt Lake City School District board members Bryce Williams, Nate Salazar and Mohamed Baayd listen to Elizabeth Grant Thursday after she was named as district superintendent. | Salt Lake City School District

"Successful districts have one thing in common," Grant said. "They give continual, truly relentless attention to the day-to-day work in classrooms and schools."

She went on to call the district a "gem," saying that it holds "all the promise of public education's charge to provide opportunity and enrich lives" and that she believes the district has the talent and resources to reach those promises.

"We can provide excellence and equity to every student. I'm honored to serve as Salt Lake City's superintendent of schools and to work with this board and the educators and staff of the Salt Lake City School District to increase opportunity and achievement for every one of our students," Grant said.

Salazar said that Grant "was instrumental in shaping public education policy while serving as a chief of staff and senior policy advisor within the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education and has most recently worked to impact future educators as a professor in the George Washington University Graduate School of Education."

"Her impressive work history, which I've only lightly touched on, and her research background — including her ability to translate research into policy and practice — will be of immense benefit to our students for years to come. She has knowledge of best practices in school districts across the country, but she also knows who we are here in Salt Lake City because she is one of us. We are thrilled to appoint her as the new superintendent of the Salt Lake City School District," Salazar said.

Grant will officially assume the role of superintendent on July 1.