Superintendent search proceeding carefully

By Curt Yeomans


Barbara Pulliam resigned as Clayton County's school superintendent five months ago, but the search to find her replacement is still in it's early stages.

In September, the board of education formed a search team, led by Cathy Hill, the chairman of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors. The team met with representatives of the Georgia School Board Association (GSBA), and the Georgia School Superintendents Association (GSSA) to get advice on the process involved in searching for a new superintendent.

Earlier this month, the committee recommended an executive search firm to the board, so the process could move to the stage where qualifications for Pulliam's replacement could be created.

The clock is ticking on the search because Interim Superintendent Gloria Duncan is on contract to serve as the temporary leader of Clayton County schools until the end of June 2008. Pulliam wasn't hired in 2003 until nearly a year after the departure of her predecessor, Dan Colwell.

Still, Hill believes the search for a new superintendent is on track.

"We feel strongly that it's the right kind of process, that it's a good search process," Hill said.

The board will hold a planning meeting with the Illinois-based executive search firm of Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, Ltd., at 6:30 p.m., on Jan. 9, at the school system's Central Administration Complex, 1058 Fifth Ave., Jonesboro. District spokesman Charles White said the meeting is scheduled to last about two hours, but he didn't know whether the meeting would be open to the public.

The board can hold a closed meeting, if it is discussing personnel issues, which pertain to specific people. "It [the superintendent search] is a personnel issue, but it's not about a particular individual," White said.

The firm is currently working on nearly 20 other superintendent searches across the United States. Some of the school systems which are currently using the firm include, San Diego (Calif.) Unified School District (122,800 students); Compton (Calif.) Unified School District (32,000 students); and Spokane (Wash.) Public Schools (30,600 students).

The firm has previously conducted searches for DeKalb County Schools; Des Moines (Iowa) Public Schools; Denver (Colo.) Public Schools; East Baton Rouge (La.) Parish School District, and Santa Monica-Malibu (Calif.) Schools.

Hill said future involvement between the search committee and Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, Ltd., will be limited to offering "stake holder input" at a later date, by helping coordinate public meetings in which members of the community can let the firm know what qualities and skills an ideal superintendent needs to possess.

Hill also doesn't believe Pulliam's resignation has had an affect on the search for her successor, up to this point. In the aftermath of the resignation, several parents expressed outrage, and accused the board of forcing Pulliam out of office.

"We [the search team] did all we could to focus on the future, and did not discuss Dr. Pulliam's resignation," Hill said.

Board of education chairperson, Ericka Davis, GSSA Executive Director Herb Garrett, and representatives of Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, Ltd., could not be reached for comment on Friday. The GSBA office was closed for the holidays, and will not reopen until early January 2008.