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BOE explains corrective superintendent search

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Board of Education wants to clear up any "confusion" about its call for a "corrective" superintendent.

A firm hired to find a permanent superintendent for Clayton schools recommended bringing in a "corrective" superintendent -- as soon as is feasible -- to lead the district until the spring of 2009.

The company, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, Ltd., urged the use of a corrective school chief, after reviewing data collected from the community, which indicated that community members were not comfortable with the current board picking the new, permanent superintendent.

According to the school board, a corrective superintendent will be someone who is experienced enough to lead the district as it tries to meet nine mandates from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) by a Sept. 1 deadline, or face losing its accreditation.

SACS' governing board will vote to accept the agency's recommendation to revoke the accreditation on Saturday during a conference in Chicago.

"The recommendation [to postpone the superintendent search] was made after data collected from the Leadership Profile and community forums indicated that public trust in the board, to select the permanent superintendent, was greatly impacted by the SACS report," according a statement released by legal counsel Dorsey Hopson, on the school board's behalf, on Tuesday.

The length of the corrective superintendent's contract; who will be the preferred candidates; when the search for a permanent superintendent will resume; and how the corrective leader will transfer control of the district to his or her permanent successor were explained in the Tuesday statement.

"The board apologizes for any confusion in the announcement made on March 6, 2008, regarding the recommendation made to the board by [the search firm of] Hazard, Young and Attea to postpone the superintendent search and consider selecting a corrective superintendent," according to the statement.

What's going to happen?

· The corrective superintendent will receive a one-year contract to "guide the administration through their corrective measures."

· Retired superintendents from other districts will receive "strong consideration" for the position. No one from Clayton County schools will be considered for the position.

· The search for a permanent superintendent will resume in January 2009, and the board will receive three candidates to interview two months later. The decision is being postponed until next year because it will be after elections are held to decide who will fill five of the board's nine seats. "... by that time, CCPS should be in better standing with its accreditation," according to the statement.

· The permanent superintendent will be named in April, or May, of 2009. There will be a one-month transition period where the corrective and permanent superintendents will work together to smoothly transfer control of the district.

· Interim Superintendent Duncan, who replaced Dr. Barbara Pulliam in July 2007, will be reassigned in April of this year, when the board votes to re-elect district administrators.

"The board values Dr. Duncan's work for the district and did not want her to be without an administrative appointment ...," according to the statement. "If approved, this decision in no way serves as an indication of dissatisfaction with Dr. Duncan's performance as interim superintendent or lack of appreciation for the efforts that she has made during her tenure in the role."

How was the decision reached?

In the statement, the decision is referred to as a recommendation. No mention is made about when the board will publicly vote to accept the recommendation, or if it has already been accepted by board members.

Hopson, board Chairperson Ericka Davis, and Vice chairman Eddie White could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

However, board member Lois Baines-Hunter said a date already has been set up to interview candidates for the corrective superintendent position. Baines-Hunter said she recently received an e-mail from Latasha Lowe, Hopson's legal secretary, announcing the board was going to meet with Dr. Richard Green, search leader for the permanent superintendent, to interview candidates.

The interviews are scheduled to begin Saturday at 9 a.m., at the school district's administrative complex in Jonesboro, the board member added.

Baines-Hunter said she could not remember if there were two, or three, candidates. She also said the board discussed the idea of suspending the permanent superintendent search during a recent executive session.

"I've been outspoken about this sort of behavior for several months," Baines-Hunter said. "There are many things that have taken place, which never should have taken place. If you speak out about them, however, they [other board members] just go after you, so whatever they want to do is fine with me."

Also on Tuesday, the Clayton County Democratic Party announced it is teaming with the Clayton Students' Coalition to host a forum for potential school board candidates.

The forum will be held March 20, at 7 p.m., in the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center, located at 3499 Rex Road, in Rex.