By Greg Gelpi
As part of its efforts to get off probation, the Clayton County Board of Education initiated a national search for a new superintendent, and so far 21 candidates have applied.
"Of the 21, 18 have doctorate degrees; eight are current or former superintendents and seven assistant superintendents; 10 are from Georgia, two from Tennessee, two from Virginia, two from Washington, and one each from Florida, Alabama, New York, Ohio, Michigan, and New Jersey," Legislative Specialist Don Rooks of the Georgia School Boards Association said.
The names of the candidates are confidential and unable to be disclosed, he explained.
Many members of the school board feel that the hiring of a new superintendent is crucial in providing direction and guidance to the troubled board.
One of those members is newly elected member Allen T. Johnson, who is considered to be the swing vote. He was elected to the board in a special election and could break the long streak of 4-4 ties.
The board drafted a list of qualifications and asked the Georgia School Boards Association to conduct the national search.
It had conducted a pseudo-national search on its own in which some of the board members never even saw a complete list of candidates.
The GSBA will continue to accept applications until Oct. 21 at which time they will be passed on to the county's school board.
"After that, the dates for interviews and employment are at the discretion of the Board (of Education)," Rooks said.
The board will then review the applications and interview the candidates it decides to and choose a superintendent following the interview process.
The GSBA typically conducts 10 superintendent searches in an average year.
The fight for a national superintendent search brought the board to a halt and drew the ire of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which placed the school system on probation.
For instance, four board members left the July 8 meeting of the board when a move to amend the agenda to include a motion to conduct a national search resulted in a 4-4 tie.
Board members Ericka Davis, Barbara Wells, Linda Crummy and Bob Livingston left the meeting, forcing Chairwoman Nedra Ware to end the meeting prematurely when the board no longer had enough members to conduct business.
Conducting a national search is one of the requirements set forth by SACS to lift the probationary status of the school system.
When SACS visited Wednesday, the team indicated progress was made, but more had to be done before the team returns in the spring to decide whether or not to remove the county from probation or pull its accreditation.