Background checks planned

By Trina Trice

The Clayton County Board of Education decided to hire a consulting firm to aid in its Superintendent search at a called meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, several board members said the 10 who applied for the job include "one from New York and several from Tennessee."

With Board members Ericka Davis and Linda Crummy unable to attend because of scheduling conflicts, six of the seven members present voted in favor of using a soon to be named consulting firm to conduct a series of background checks on the 10 applicants it received for Superintendent candidacy.

Board Chairwoman Nedra Ware said the board will attempt to have a consulting firm to vote on within 48 hours, necessitating a called meeting on Thursday.

Board member Dr. Bob Livingston opposed the vote to use a consulting firm, saying the board hadn't yet conducted a genuine national superintendent search as it said it would.

"What do you consider a national search?" asked Board member LaToya Walker.

Livingston said he thought having between 48 to 50 applicants to choose from would indicate a national search had been conducted.

When the Fulton County Board of Education conducted its superintendent search, its process included extensive interviews with a number of candidates. The Fulton County school board considered approximately 70 candidates from 30 states who represented a group of professional educators, business leaders and career military personnel. Included among those candidates were 32 individuals with superintendent experience.

Fulton County school system recently appointed a former superintendent from Minneapolis.

"Maybe you do want to hire someone locally, but I think we should hire the best person for the job," Livingston told board members. "I don't think we're doing that."

Ed Scott, assistant superintendent of Personnel for Clayton County Schools, suggested to the board that using a representative from a consulting firm or other professional would be most beneficial to the school board during its superintendent search process, especially when reference checks have to be made.

Scott cited that the board had to "develop a level of confidentiality" during such a process for it be effective.

Although Scott admitted he and his staff or board members could perform the reference checks saying "I'd be willing to do that on behalf of the board, if that's your pleasure," he asserted a consultant would be helpful.

"Based on what you've said, it might be more effective for us to use a consultant," Walker said. "This is not our area of expertise."

Kitchens followed up on Scott's suggestions, stating she received information from Gary Sams that also encouraged the board to use a consulting firm.

Recently, Kitchens spoke with two consultants, one whose name she couldn't remember, the other was Johnny Holiday.

Holiday quoted her price of $350 per person to conduct an extensive background check that could include criminal, credit, social security, drug, and other vital checks and the verification of educational and professional credentials.

"Whether they're a dead-beat dad or mom, they could pull this up," Kitchens said.

In a press release issued April 3, the school board announced it would accept applications from qualified candidates for superintendent until April 11.

Applications were sent to a post box office in Hapeville and were retrieved by Board Vice Chairwoman Connie Kitchens.

Selections and interviews of the top candidates were supposed to be conducted from April 14 through April 21, and a new superintendent was to be selected on the final day of interviews.

The board has reported receiving only 10 applications from candidates locally and nationally, according to Ware at a called board meeting in April.

Board members have yet to review the applications.

Possible candidates named for the superintendent have included interim Superintendent Dr. William Chavis, Clayton County school system assistant superintendents Walt Pierce and Sam King, and DeKalb County school administrators Dr. Lonnie Edwards, Dr. Stan Pritchett, and Dr. Jim Williams.