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39 apply to be Clayton schools superintendent

By Greg Gelpi

Clayton County's national search for a new public school superintendent has moved closer to completion with 39 persons applying by the deadline

The Georgia School Boards Association said with the deadline for applying passed, an outside review team has screened the applications.

The national search netted the 39 applicants who applied to take over the helm of the Clayton County Public School system, Don Rooks, the legislative specialist for the GSBA, said.

The GSBA employed an outside team of three to divide the applicants into three groups based upon the quality of the applications.

The applications will be delivered to the members of the Clayton County Board of Education at a workshop tentatively scheduled for 8 a.m. Nov. 8 at the school board office, board attorney Gary Sams said. The workshop would provide information on how to trim the list of candidates and how to interview them.

"It was a strong recommendation by the GSBA, and the board wants to follow all of the GSBA's recommendations," Sams said.

The school board drafted the requirements for the applications and then let the GSBA handle accepting the applications, Rooks said.

"This is the first time they'll see the applications," Rooks said. "They may want to select people to interview. They may want to wait on it a while."

Although the GSBA worked to gather the 39 applications, the school board has the final decision and can choose to hire anyone on the list or someone not on the list, Rooks said.

"From this point on, the board is driving the vehicle," Rooks said. "We're still here to assist them, which is what we've done all along."

The national search for a new superintendent is a major requirement for the school board to be taken off probation. The school system's accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, placed the system on probation for not following its own policy.

Other attempts by the school board to hire a superintendent were not national searches, and some board members complained of not seeing complete lists of applicants.

Newly elected board member Allen T. Johnson knows nothing of the status of the current search other than talk of a workshop with GSBA.

"The only thing I know of it came from the newspaper," Johnson said. "I haven't heard a thing."

Hiring a superintendent is key to SACS lifting the probation, SACS Commission of Secondary and Middle Schools Executive Director Mark Elgart said.

SACS will return to Clayton County in the spring to review the progress of the board and decide whether or not to remove the probation or lift its accreditation.