School board to discuss search

By Trina Trice

The Clayton County Board of Education is meeting this afternoon to discuss updates on the school superintendent search.

The superintendent search was originally planned to end Monday, but the board announced that it had changed its plans at a called meeting Thursday.

Ten applications had been collected from a Hapeville post office box and briefly shown to board members at the Thursday meeting.

"I haven't been able to do anything," said Board member Dr. Bob Livingston. "The people that's getting them have probably looked at them."

Board Vice Chairwoman Connie Kitchens board member was the one responsible for picking up the applications.

The entire board is supposed to be on the Search Committee, according to Board Chairwoman Nedra Ware and Kitchens.

During its executive session Thursday, the board decided to halt all review of the applications until criminal background checks have been completed by Andre Cherry, Personnel Review officer for Clayton County Schools.

Board member Ericka Davis isn't weary about not being able to review the applications just yet.

"We didn't review any of them, that was the consent of the board," Davis said. "We prefer to follow the procedure that we have with all personnel."

Cherry is also contacting the Professional Standard Commission to verify each applicant's credentials, Davis said.

How the long the background checks will take was not specified by board members. Cherry was not available for comment by press time.

Bill Horton, acting deputy Superintendent for Clayton County Schools, said the last superintendent search conducted, which resulted in Joe Hairston's placement in the top position, took about seven or eight months before background checks and other pertinent procedures were completed and the new Superintendent took office.

Davis wishes the board had waited longer than a week to accept applications from qualified candidates.

"I'm waiting to see what this group of 10 produces," Davis said. "I kind of would have liked to have more than 10 applicants."

As to what extent the board will discuss the Superintendent search, Davis isn't sure. She didn't know the board had called a meeting as of Monday late afternoon.

"I was not faxed nor e-mailed notification of an agenda for a board meeting," Davis said. "If it's at 5:30, I won't be attending. I work. I don't get off until 5:30."

Ware, Kitchens, and Board members LaToya Walker and Carol Kellam could either not be reached or didn't return phone calls by press time.

In other business, several board members, including Walker, Kitchens, Kellam, Livingston, Davis and Board member Barbara Wells, testified in front of the grand jury last week.

Ware is believed to have testified weeks ago.

Board member Barbara Wells thinks all board members were asked the same questions.

"They asked if I knew Dan (former Superintendent Dan Colwell) was going to be fired that night (at a Jan. 13 meeting)," Wells said. "I said ?no'. They asked if I knew Terry Jackson (special matters attorney whose fees the board is disputing before the Georgia Bar Association) was going to be hired. I said, ?no'."

About the grand jury Livingston said, "I think the grand jury knows what they were after."

When asked what he thought the grand jury was after, Livingston said, "Leadership."

Livingston wouldn't comment on whether the grand jury asked about certain board members.