Curman Gaines, first person of color to serve as SPPS superintendent, dies

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Dr. Curman Gaines, who served as the superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools from 1991-98, has died, a spokesman for the school district confirmed Wednesday.

Gaines was the first person of color to become the school district’s top administrator. He served as a teacher and building administrator for two decades before being named superintendent.

"Those who knew him say he had a way of helping people feel good about their work and themselves, both students and staff," SPPS Superintendent Joe Gothard said in a statement. "In 1996 he received a Regional Administrator of Excellence Award from the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. SPPS is a better organization today because of the many years of contributions by Dr. Curman Gaines.

After retirement, Gaines served as a board member for the Southern University System, the only historically black university system in the U.S.