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School board postpones search

By Trina Trice

The Clayton County Board of Education won't decide on a school superintendent by Monday, as they had planned.

Following a called meeting Thursday afternoon, Board Chairwoman Nedra Ware told the audience that board members were given copies of superintendent applicants' materials during the executive session.

"At this time the board has received 10 applicants from all across the country," Ware said. "The board has not reviewed them, yet."

The applicants' names and information are being turned over to officials in the Personnel Department who will conduct criminal background checks on the 10 candidates.

"The board will reconvene to review the candidates that successfully complete the background checks," Ware said.

Ware did not give any indication when the board will meet again to discuss the superintendent candidates.

The board was accepting applications for superintendent until midnight April 11.

In a news release issued two weeks ago, the board said selections would be made and interviews would be conducted of the top candidates Monday by the official Search Committee, comprised of board members. A new superintendent was to be named Monday, according to that news release. But the need for background checks has required the board to take more time, Ware said.

According to information obtained by the News Daily under an Open Records request, the Search Committee is selecting the top four candidates and "as constituted by law, cannot release the names of those individuals," said Bill Horton, Acting Deputy Superintendent of Clayton County Schools. The top three candidates' names must be released.

But Tamara Boatwright, managing editor of the News Daily, said Thursday, "We feel that they will be skirting the law if they try this. We are consulting the Georgia Press Association attorney to discuss the matter."

The board is just trying to protect the identities of the applicants, especially those who don't want their current employers to know they are seeking jobs elsewhere, Horton said.

While the board may not be releasing the names of the top three Superintendent candidates, two names have recently emerged as contenders. The News Daily has learned that Dr. Stan Prichett, associate superintendent of Business Affairs and Plant Services for DeKalb County Schools, and Dr. Jim Williams, assistant superintendent of Administration for DeKalb County Schools, could be among the 10 candidates the board will be reviewing.

This would make three DeKalb officials, whose names have surfaced. The other is assistant superintendent Lonnie Edwards.

The board first planned a nationwide search with the help of a professional firm. It then reversed itself and said it would search locally and a new superintendent would be selected this month.

Clayton County NAACP President Dexter Matthews and others urged the board this week to go back to the national search.