state Education Department

Scott Shirey, founder and executive director of the KIPP Delta Public Schools, a group of charter schools based in Helena-West Helena, has departed the organization.

He founded the Kipp Delta College Preparatory School in Helena in 2002 and had been executive director of the growing system of charter schools, often the subject of laudatory articles, from July 2008 until last February, when he stepped down as executive director to remain as head of schools and spend more time in the classroom.


Carissa Goodwin, interim executive director of the KIPP schools, confirms Shirey’s last day at KIPP Delta was Aug. 30. A search is proceeding for a new executive director.

I’ve so far been unable to reach Shirey, but he sent staff an e-mail in late July:


I hope this message finds you all well.  I am writing to let you know that my time and journey with KIPP Delta is coming to an end on August 30.


In consultation with Ms. Godwin and our KIPP Delta Board of Directors, I have decided that it is the right time for me to transition out of KIPP Delta.  The Core 12 is firmly in place and it is exciting to see our region, once again, come together as one team.  With new leadership in place and a new future ahead, I am confident that KIPP Delta is in good hands.


I am incredibly proud of our many achievements as an organization and the myriad accomplishments of our students and alumni.  Though I will not physically be with you, my heart and spirit will remain with all of you.  KIPP Delta will remain KIPP Delta, with its own unique set of beliefs, values, and traditions.  I know each of you, as well as KIPP Delta’s leadership team and board, will continue to uphold and live these beliefs, values, and traditions and that you will continue to bring fresh energy and new ideas, improving upon our core. KIPP Delta is not, and cannot be, about one single person.  KIPP Delta continues to be, at its heart, about transforming lives through education.  KIPP Delta is our students, our alumni, our staff, and our communities.


It has been a great honor to serve our students and communities for the past seventeen years and I hope to have the opportunity to personally thank each of you over the next six weeks for your commitment.  I wish you all the greatest of success and, as always, love, literacy, and leadership.


With much love and gratitude,

Scott Shirey

I’ve written Shirey about reasons for his departure and future plans.  A friend in the city tells me Shirey had said he’d spoken perhaps of going into consulting work.

From one school KIPP has grown to five with more than 1,300 students in two cities, Helena-West Helena and Blytheville. “Scaling up” the school has come with growing pains. Last year, for example, two KIPP schools, Delta Elementary Literacy Academy and Delta Blytheville College Preparatory, received D grades on test-based school report cards for the second consecutive year.