PROVIDENCE — Dr. Javier Montañez, the popular principal of the Leviton Dual Language School, an elementary school, has been named interim superintendent of Providence schools.
Montañez will replace Harrison Peters, who resigned on May 21 after facing criticism for hiring Olayinka Alege, a Providence school administrator who was charged with assault for allegedly forcibly massaging a teenage boy’s foot at a Warwick gym in April.
It’s unclear if Montañez will be a candidate for the permanent superintendent’s job, which Governor Dan McKee and Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green hope to fill before the beginning of the school year.
Montañez, who spent parts of his childhood homeless, earned a master’s degree from Rhode Island College and his doctorate from Johnson and Wales University. He was a second grade teacher before becoming an administrator.
At Leviton Dual Language, Montañez has overseen a school that has made significant improvements in English language proficiency for its 250 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. He is also enjoys strong relationships with teachers, which will be pivotal for regaining trust with the state takeover of Providence schools.
The state took control of Providence schools in November 2019 in an attempt to turn around a school system that has struggled for decades. But the COVID-19 pandemic limited the district’s ability to make progress, and the management has been locked in a tense contract battle with the Providence Teachers Union.