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New superintendent takes the reins at DPS

City leaders spoke at an assembly to kick off Susana Cordova's first day as the district's leader.
Credit: Courtesy Gabrielle Bryant, Mayor's office

Susana Cordova, who began her career in Denver as a bilingual teacher, on Monday took over her role as superintendent of Denver Public Schools.

Her first day comes less than a month after the Denver Board of Education unanimously voted to name Cordova to the role. Cordova had served as the district's deputy superintendent for the past two years.

RELATED: Susana Cordova unanimously approved as new DPS superintendent

Cordova started her day at an assembly at Barnum Elementary School at 85 Hooker St. in Denver at 10 a.m. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock spoke at the event, as well as former mayors Wellington Webb and Federico Peña.

"I’m thrilled to welcome her to this new role with DPS, and look forward to her continued and phenomenal service to our students, families, staff, faculty and community," Hancock said. "I am confident that her time and experience within the district will help her navigate and improve the ways in which DPS brings exceptional education to our great city."

Cordova graduated from a DPS school and is the parent of a current student in the district. According to her biography posted on the district’s website, she has also been a teacher and principal before moving into an administrative position.

Cordova was named as the finalist for the district’s top job after other candidates who the district said “matched the qualifications” withdrew from the process in late November.

DPS spent $161,375.13 on the search, according to the district's communications district. That drew controversy from some parents, who called the process -- which ended with Cordova, the current deputy superintendent at the time, as the sole finalist -- "rigged" and a "sham."

RELATED: Search for Denver superintendent cost more than searches in 4 other districts combined

RELATED: Some call DPS superintendent search a 'sham'

Tom Boasberg, the previous superintendent, announced he was stepping down in July after nearly 10 years on the job. Cordova was first named interim superintendent in 2016 when Boasberg took a brief leave of absence from the position. 

9NEWS confirmed Cordova started the job Monday without a contract. She's being paid based on her old role as deputy superintendent while the terms are negotiated. 

The Colorado Association of School Executives said, though, that in a situation like this with a quick turnaround between selection and start date - in the middle of a school year - this isn't unusual.

A district spokesman said Cordova's lack of a contract won't keep her from being involved in upcoming negotiations over the teachers' union contract.

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