Dr. James

Bio for David W. James, Ed.D.

Superintendent, Akron Public Schools

Revised January 2020

Akron Public Schools Superintendent David W. James is the 22nd chief executive of the Akron school system. He oversees roughly 20,000 pupils, 3,000 employees and operations of more than 40 school buildings.

The Akron Board of Education selected Mr. James in August of 2008 to lead the public school system through a period of significant transition.

David James continues to oversee the largest building renovation and consolidation project in the history of the Akron schools. Upon completion, the $800 million endeavor will have converted nearly all Akron school buildings into modern, safe community learning centers -- schools by day, community learning centers (CLCs) for residents during evenings and weekends.

David, his staff and key community partners have successfully worked with Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) to have Akron Public Schools designated as a Ford Next Generation Learning Community. A division of Ford Motor Company, Ford NGL is nationally recognized for its unique approach to learning that better prepares high school students for career success.  

Through this framework, the district is transitioning all high schools into our new College & Career Academies of Akron (C&CAA). Through this revolutionary approach to high school, APS is now offering a smaller, more focused learning environment, and students are selecting a college and career path similar to selecting a major in college.

All APS freshmen are enrolled in Freshman Academy where students focus on college and career exploration to make an informed decision about selecting an academy for their sophomore through senior years. Nearly 200 business and community partners have agreed to join with individual academies and pathways at the high schools. The district is on track to launch wall-to-wall academies for all high school students in the 2019-20 school year. Under the academy framework, schools can offer a more focused learning setting, and students can select a college and career path similar to picking a major in college. 

Also groundbreaking is the dual-degree program David James has made available to students. This gives them a leg up on college by taking both high school and college courses and receiving both a diploma and a two-year college degree upon graduation from high school. This program is offered as part of the curriculum now throughout APS, at our Akron Early College High School on the campus of The University of Akron and through a partnership with Stark State College.

Leadership from David James has led to a partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF) to create the I PROMISE School, which opened in July 2018. Each year, Akron Public Schools identifies a new class of students that, by third grade, have already fallen behind their peers. With research showing this is a critical time to intervene, LJFF provides what are called wrap-around supports, or, as LeBron says, “We wrap our arms around these kids and support them with the resources, mentorship and encouragement they need to stay on track to graduation.”

David James earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and his master’s degree from Cleveland State University, in public administration.

David is the 2017 recipient of the Ohio Superintendent Outstanding Performance Award from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation and -- in 2017 -- received the Glass Half Full Award from GAR Foundation. The Glass Half Full Award honors leaders for their inspiring and optimistic guidance of nonprofit organizations.

Mr. James was president (2017-18) of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators. He received the Community Service Award from Project GRAD in 2017 and an Honorary Alumni Award from The University of Akron in 2013, is a 2008 Leadership Akron graduate and the 2007 recipient of the Harold K. Stubbs Humanitarian Award in Education.

His Community

Those who talk to David James will often hear him say, “Education is everyone’s responsibility. Build the future. Take part.” He spreads this message to the many boards on which he serves, including:

  • Buckeye Association of School Administrators, President
  • Ohio 8 Coalition
  • Project GRAD Akron
  • Summit Education Initiative
  • United Way of Summit County

Learn more at

State-of-the-Schools Speech

David James delivered his 2021 State-of-the-Schools speech via YouTube on February 11, 2021. The following information is available to the public.

Community Connect E-Newsletter

Keep up with the Superintendent's monthly e-newsletter to the community; download the latest issue here >>.

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