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BOE to collect more input on superintendent search process

Clayton County Board of Education members Mary Baker, right, and Judy Johnson, left, listen as residents speak about the board’s superintendent search. Baker is part of a three member panel tasked with forming ways to collect more community input about the search. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

Clayton County Board of Education members Mary Baker, right, and Judy Johnson, left, listen as residents speak about the board’s superintendent search. Baker is part of a three member panel tasked with forming ways to collect more community input about the search. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

JONESBORO — Residents have another opportunity to provide input on the Clayton County Board of Education’s superintendent search process.

“Our decision was to send out a survey that will be sent out shortly,” member Mary Baker said. “It’s a simple survey. The survey will include questions about what residents expect in the search process and ways the community prefers to communicate with the board.”

The survey is the latest of such efforts.

Members received the results of last spring’s survey during its regular meeting Monday.

The new survey is the creation of a panel comprising members Baker and Jessie Goree and Vice Chairwoman Alieka Anderson, who were appointed to undertake the project collecting comments from the community. They plan to collect over a 30-day period by means ranging from online surveys to paper ballots.

“This survey is not going to determine the search,” Goree said. “It’s determining the best way you want to communicate with us, so that we can best get your input.”

The school district has been without a permanent superintendent since Oct. 1, 2012, when interim superintendent Luvenia Jackson was appointed to the position temporarily. But the board extended Jackson’s one-year contract last April to Dec. 31, 2014.

More than a dozen residents turned out to comment on the subject at Monday’s meeting — some expressing disappointment that the board has not begun a search. The array of complaints included questions about Jackson’s qualifications as a superintendent, the relevance and expense of a nationwide search and the unkept promise of conducting said search.

Most who commented during the meeting’s public participation said they would be satisfied with Jackson as the district’s permanent superintendent.

Participants repeated the mantra, “if it’s not broke, don’t try to fix it.”

Resident Cynthia Johnson said she preferred an in-house hire for the schools chief post.

“Members of our community are requesting a nationwide search for a school superintendent,” Johnson said. “I want to encourage the board to abandon a costly national search and look inward for our superintendent.”

Resident Jasmine Taylor disputed claims that the community outcry was a reflection of Jackson’s work over the past 16 months she has been at the helm. However, she said the board has failed to do the search it promised when Jackson was asked to take on the responsibilities in 2012.

“No one is stating that Ms. Jackson cannot do a good job,” Taylor said. “What they are saying is do a search.”

So added resident Jeffery Benoit, who directed his comments to the interim superintendent.

“We want to really give kudos to Ms. Jackson,” Benoit said. “My heart goes out to you. Our issue is not the job that you are doing.”

Clayton County government at-large, he said, has had issues with “adhering to policies and procedures” and following them to ensure procedures are followed through completely and ethically.

“We can’t live with circumventing policies,” Benoit said. “Ms. Jackson, do not feel like you are the target. You’re not.”