Board approves national search

By Trina Trice

The Clayton County Board of Education has agreed to conduct a national search for its next superintendent.

The official commitment to conduct the search came on the second day of a two-day retreat at the office of the Georgia School Boards Association Thursday afternoon.

With the initial motion made by Vice Chairwoman Connie Kitchens, the board worked on the wording of the final statement: "(The board accepts) Chester Gibson's offer to facilitate the review and development of a written procedure for a nationwide superintendent selection process that would be in compliance with SACS."

Gibson, parliamentarian for GSBA, conducted an information session on proper parliamentary procedures at the GSBA retreat.

Following his presentation, Gibson offered the school board his expertise for the July 21 meeting the board has scheduled to discuss the national superintendent search. He said he would not charge the board for his help.

"One of the best things the board could do is get off the stalemate concerning the superintendent search," he told the board. "(The board needs to) put in writing what you're going to do regarding the superintendent search. I would love to see this board come together in how they're going to proceed with the search. I don't think you're going to move forward until you get beyond it."

Although the board will get objective assistance from the Gibson, he asserted that he would not make any decisions for them.

Kitchens and Board Chairwoman Nedra Ware are confident that Gibson will give the board the input it needs.

The board plans to discuss with Gibson the superintendent search it began in April and how to proceed beyond it. Using an outside agency, like GSBA, is likely for the progression of the superintendent search, according to board member Barbara Wells.

"I think we're going to be able to sit down and talk about doing a national search," she said. "Hopefully we'll hire some firm like GSBA."

The board's decision to conduct a national search pleased some Clayton County residents in attendance, such as Elizabeth Armstrong, one of the coordinators of a recent press conference at the Justice Center for parents and concerned citizens.

"This is what we've been asking for for the past couple of months," she said. "Now they've set it up for another meeting; (the retreat) is like a preliminary."

The board's first superintendent search, which started in April, has been surrounded by controversy, primarily due to the one-week deadline set for accepting applications, the lack of proof the board advertised its search nationally, and the fact only four board members interviewed candidates. Some board members said they never even saw the applications nor knew who all of the candidates were.

Although four board members-Kitchens, Ware, Carol Kellam, and LaToya Walker-narrowed the search down to one finalist, other board members cried foul, and subsequently walked out on the Monday meeting because their request that the board renew its commitment to do conduct a national search was squelched.

Ware and Kitchens still contend that the search to board did on its own was a national one.

Member Ericka Davis was one who pushed for a national superintendent search.

"After the superintendent (search) process (is over), everything will go much better," she said. "There will be issues we won't agree on, but once we get a superintendent in place and get those (board) policies updated, we won't have any problems."