School Board alters superintendent search

By Bob Paslay

The Clayton County Board of Education agreed Monday night to alter its superintendent search to ask the Georgia School Boards Association for its help.

The action came after a 90-minute executive session in which four members called for reopening the search to a national one and to open up the process to the public.

The fast-paced local search generated about 10 candidates, mostly in the metro Atlanta area, but most of the members have not even seen the complete list.

Board member Ericka Davis said she is optimistic that when the professional group that advises school boards comes into the picture it will recommend a national search.

Davis said at every educational forum she has attended the public has said it wants the search to be national and open, and she said this would "go a long way to restoring public trust."

Board member Barbara Wells, who also pushed for starting over with a better search, said she is also optimistic when the association comes in it will recommend this.

Other districts have sought the help of the association which advises school boards on a number of issues.

Davis said most searches take at least three months to complete and she believes the public would accept this if it leads to a quality superintendent.

In the first meeting since four members boycotted two called meetings, the board voted unanimously to restore videotaping of the meetings.

After Superintendent Dan Colwell was fired and the tapes of that meeting were being shown on local television news reports, the taping policy was suspended.

Under the proposal pushed by Wells, the tapes would be available to the public under the Open Records law and would be shown on local access channels. They would also be maintained for at least a year.

With the board split 4-4, there was generally a more accommodating atmosphere in the open session, with actions like the taping restoration coming without any discussion. Also, even small things, like the setting of a date for a July meeting, did not create controversy. Board Chairwoman Nedra Ware polled all members to see what was best for them before setting the date.

Members have complained in the past that Ware set meetings without consulting them. At two of these special called meetings, four members just didn't show up, robbing the others of a quorum.