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National search reopened

By Trina Trice

The school board is doing a national superintendent search n but this time it will use the services of a search firm.

The Clayton County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to use a firm at the recommendation of Chester Gibson, parliamentarian for the Georgia School Boards Association.

The board invited Gibson to review what it had done since it began the search in April. The board met Gibson during a two-day retreat with the GSBA. Gibson offered his services for free because he felt the board could not move forward until it broke the "gridlock" it faced in the search process.

"There were so many flaws in the search process," Gibson told the board. "It is my opinion that you should reopen your search for a national superintendent. Even though you had plenty of meetings, you met 13 times over a four-month period, many of those meetings were unproductive, focusing on revisions of the process."

The many changes to the search process damaged the confidence the public had in the school board, Gibson said.

A session last month at a College Park hotel in which four board members interviewed superintendent candidates was "awkward," Gibson said.

According to material Gibson possessed on the interviews, eight superintendent candidates participated and were interviewed for only 30 minutes each.

"This was a problem," Gibson said.

There were some positive aspects of the board's search process, Gibson asserted.

"During the five months of the search, some good materials were produced," he said.

Gibson commended the superintendent search survey posted on the school system Web site in March, as well as the brochure and job description used for the search.

"The hard work of many was not in vain," Gibson assured the board.

The next step the board should take is to hire a search firm that can do the search right. Gibson strongly recommended the board negotiate with GSBA. He said the GSBA's director "would be delighted" to negotiate with the board.

The board heeded Gibson's advice and voted unanimously to begin negotiations with the GSBA for its national superintendent search.

"Should you do those ? things tonight, you'll be the winner, but more importantly so will 50,000 children," Gibson said to a standing ovation from audience members.

Clayton County resident Barry Wearne, who attended the retreat, thought Monday night he saw the emergence of a new board.

"I think they just have to keep up with it," he said. "It's a step in the right direction. (Monday night) the foundation was being laid. Now, they have to build on that foundation."

In other business, the board unanimously approved the following personnel recommendations: assistant principal appointments were Terry Young at Riverdale High School, Dwane Roberts at Roberts Middle School, Tiffany Hogan at Forest Park High School, Charmaine Johnson at Lovejoy Middle School, and Debra Smith at Church Street Elementary School; and administrator/principal is Dr. Rick Ashe at the Alternative School.

The board also unanimously ratified four commitments it drafted during its retreat.

The board's commitments are:

* "Commit to attending board meetings with an open mind, with a willingness to review all presented information, and listen to and value each board member's thoughts, opinions, and ideas."

* "Commit to looking outside the box for solutions as opposed to using the excuse, ?That's how it was always done'; to move forward from the experiences of the past, recognizing those as learning experiences; and to visit other systems to gain further insight and ideas of how other boards operate and are organized."

* "Commit to work as a board and not as individuals, recognizing that we are one governing body and that together we can make the difference."

* "Commit to creating an atmosphere conducive to open, honest communication by developing processes, both internal and external, which will foster trust among board members to improve the image of the board and support of the community."