Clayton County Board of Education Chairwoman Pamela Adamson expresses her opinion on the format for the board's superintendent search Monday. Although board members debated the issue for 27 minutes, they made little headway in choosing a structure.
JONESBORO Members of the Clayton County Board of Education made their opinions known on a preferred superintendent search format Monday, but they made little headway in choosing a structure.
It has been five months since former Superintendent Edmond Heatley announced plans to step down to pursue a similar job in California. It also has been nearly four months since Interim Superintendent Luvenia Jackson took over as the district’s leader.
The board still has not decided whether it wants to conduct its own search, or hire a firm to seek out superintendent candidates.
“It’s January and we’ve got to give some [employee] contracts out soon, and it’s not fair to whoever comes in if we’re just lollygagging,” said board member Jessie Goree.
The issue was up for discussion at the board’s work session this week. However, the talks proved to be little more than board members pontificating on the merits of a self-search versus a search done by a so-called “headhunter” firm.
The issue was not up for a vote because it was a work session, but the board did not appear to come to a clear consensus either.
The majority of board members said they preferred to conduct the search themselves with assistance from their attorney, Glenn Brock. The attorney conducted the board’s last superintendent search, which brought Heatley to the district in 2009.
Vice-Chairwoman Mary Baker said Brock gave the board access to applications for the job four years ago, and she wanted that to continue this time around. A common criticism of search firms is that they have lists of candidates they “shop” around the country.
“I don’t want people to only bring me the top five people they take around the country,” Baker said. “I want to see all of the applications we get.”
However, some board members favored the search firm method. Board member Charlton Bivins singled out Brock as someone he did not want running the search.
He felt any new superintendent hired through a search conducted under Brock’s guidance would feel a sense of loyalty to the attorney.
“There needs to be some separation there,” Bivins said.
Board member Mark Christmas focused mainly on advocating for the hiring of a superintendent from the Atlanta area.
“We don’t need to go to California, D.C., Virginia or wherever we are going to get superintendents,” Christmas said. “We need someone who knows the system and its needs.”
Fellow board member Michael King said he supported for whichever option was cheaper.
Bivins called for the board to most “post haste” to pick a new superintendent.
Other board members, such as Chairwoman Pamela Adamson, Ophelia Burroughs and Judy Johnson, said there doesn’t need to be a sense of urgency to choose a new superintendent right away.
“We need to take our time and make sure we get the proper person for our school system,” said Johnson.
Adamson added, “We shouldn’t rush. I’ve had a number of employees come up to me in the grocery store and tell me that Mrs. Jackson is doing a good job, and while she is not a candidate for the permanent job, they feel she is doing a great job in the interim. They have asked that we move slowly so the district can heal and we can have some consistency before we hire a new superintendent.”
In the end, the board really didn’t move any further along in the search process. Adamson told her colleagues they are expected to discuss the issue further at a Feb. 9 board retreat.