Crawley was named ACPS superintendent in February of 2014 following a four-month stint as the school system’s interim leader. He served until his departure in 2017 to teach graduate courses at George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development.
Crawley came to ACPS in 2013 from Prince Georges County, Md., where he had been interim superintendent. In Alexandria, he followed the abrupt departure of Morton Sherman, whose contract was bought out by ACPS two years before his contract was set to expire.
Sherman was the second consecutive superintendent whose contract was bought out by Alexandria. Rebecca Perry departed as superintendent in 2008 in the wake of an extended controversy over a drunken driving arrest.
Alvin Leonard Crawley was born Aug. 29, 1958, in Richmond to Ruby Lee and Laundry Crawley. He attended Hampton University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology/Education in 1980 and was a member of Phi Beta Sigma.
He studied special education at the University of Massachusetts Boston before earning a Master of Science in Speech and Hearing Science at Northeastern University, where he was a member of the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society.
Crawley obtained a Doctor of Education in 1990 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst specializing in educational administration and supervision.
Crawley’s career spanned 39 years, including time as a teacher, a speech-language pathologist, an administrator, an adjunct faculty member and superintendent. He joined ACPS in 2013 as the first Black superintendent in Alexandria.
Prior to coming to Alexandria, Crawley held top administrative jobs in Chicago and Boston, and he spent 17 years in the Arlington County school system, including as director of special education and assistant superintendent of student services.
He took over in Prince George’s County during a leadership upheaval similar to that in Alexandria, stepping in after William R. Hite Jr.’s abrupt departure in September 2012. Previously, he had worked for six months as the deputy chief of programming in the office of special education of the D.C. public school system.
Crawley took the helm of ACPS when school performance was under scrutiny. At the time, Jefferson-Houston Elementary School had been targeted for a possible state takeover because of chronic low test performance, and four of the city’s five middle schools were on track to lose their accreditation and be subject to similar sanctions.
Crawley helped design a plan to consolidate the city’s five small middle schools into two larger schools, now George Washington Middle School and Francis C. Hammond Middle School. His move reversed some of the changes Sherman had put in place shortly after arriving in 2008.
Upon his retirement from ACPS, the School Board praised Crawley for his leadership in increasing student achievement overall and narrowing the achievement gap on state assessments across all schools. He laid the foundation for an Early College Program in partnership with Northern Virginia Community College, revamped summer learning opportunities and realigned the curriculum and instruction department (now known as the Department of Teaching, Learning and Leadership). He was also responsible for launching ACPS 2020, a five-year divisionwide strategic plan that integrated the work of the school division to help ACPS become more transparent and accountable.
“Dr. Crawley served as an admirable role model and champion for all children, and his contributions to the field of education and the school divisions he served are commendable,” ACPS said in a statement.
Upon his hiring of Crawley, George Mason University Provost Mark Ginsberg described Crawley as “one of the most respected African-American school superintendents in the country.”
Crawley retired from George Mason in 2020. He was predeceased by his parents, Laundry Crawley Sr. and Ruby Lee Crawley, and an older brother, Laundry Crawley Jr. Funeral arrangements are unknown at this time.