Newly elected board members want input in superintendent search
In the days leading up to Tuesday’s election, several candidates for school board called on the current board to slow down the superintendent search process so newly elected members can help hire the school district’s next leader.
The board pretty much rejected that idea, but did agree that new members should be allowed to provide some measure of input before the decision is made.
But exactly how that input will come is still up in the air.
The board has asked the school district’s attorney to look at what it can legally do with regard to involving the newly elected members in the search before they take office in July.
Voters elected three new board members Tuesday. Mike Lee defeated District 1 incumbent Omega Curtis Parker, Sendolo Diaminah was elected in District 2 to replace Fredrick Davis and Matt Sears was elected to replace Nancy Cox in District 3.
Neither Cox nor Davis sought re-election.
Talk of allowing the newly elected board members to participate in the superintendent search process has raised the question about whether the incoming board members can legally participate in closed-door meetings before taking office, whether they can be sworn to secrecy or even take a vote in the selection of the next superintendent.
“We need to get feedback from our attorney about how to do that,” said school board member Natalie Beyer, who was re-elected to the District 4 school board seat Tuesday after running unopposed.
Diaminah said he is researching the legal process regarding how much input newly elected members can have before being sworn in.
“I think the newly elected group should be involved in finalizing interview questions and helping to deepen community engagement before the swearing-in,” Diaminah said. “We should be deeply involved in the search process.”
Meanwhile, Lee said he would like to have as much input as possible in the process and believes the board should slow the search.
But he said the current board has “every right to select the next superintendent on the timetable that they see fit.”
“I would prefer them to wait,” Lee said. “I understand the arguments on both sides, but this is their job. This is what they were elected to do, so I totally understand.”
Beyer said she believes there are creative ways to the school board can come up with to involve the newly elected members in the search process.
Sears said he expects the person offered the job will want to first meet the board, including its newest members whether sworn-in or not.
I would be surprised if the job candidate didn’t want to sit around the table with the board’s new members before deciding whether to accept or decline the job offer.
Although the board has set a goal to select a superintendent by the end of next month, members have said they are willing to extend the process if the search doesn’t yield the person they think is best for the job.
“I think we’ll take all the time that’s needed,” Beyer said.