Durham school district hopes to narrow superintendent search

May. 20, 2014 @ 05:34 PM

The Durham Public Schools Board of Education meets Wednesday in closed session to review applications for a new district superintendent.

School board Chairwoman Heidi Carter said the job has drawn significant interest. It came open last December after Eric Becoats resigned amid criticism of his management of the school district.

“We’re getting a lot of interest from highly qualified candidates,” Carter said.

She said the exact number of applicants to express interest in the job would be revealed during the closed session with Iowa-based Ray & Associates, the firm hired by the board to conduct the search.

Carter said the board would receive information about all of the applicants, but view only video recordings of interviews with those applicants who matched the candidate’s profile developed last month by Ray & Associates.

The firm spent several days in Durham meeting with the board, staff and community members to discern what qualities they want to see in the next superintendent. Residents also shared ideas about the next superintendent in an online survey.

“We’ll have the entire list of names but not full packages on all of the candidates,” Carter said. “We’ll have full packages for about a dozens or so applicants.”

By the end of the meeting, the board could have six to eight semifinalist selected for face-to-face interviews.

The board has set a goal to have a new superintendent by the end of June, but members have said they will not hesitate to restart the search if the right candidate does not emerge.

The board continues to wrestle with the idea of somehow including three new board members elected May 6 in the superintendent search process.

Talk of allowing the newly elected board members to participate in the superintendent search process has raised the question about whether the newly elected board members can legally participate in closed-door meetings before taking office in July, whether they can be sworn to secrecy or even take a vote in the selection of the next superintendent.

Newly-elected board members Mike Lee and Sendolo Diaminah have said they want some role in the selection process.

Meanwhile, Matt Sears, also elected May 6, has said he believes the person chosen to lead the district will want to meet and talk to newly-elected board members before accepting the job.

The board has asked the district’s attorneys to look into what’s possible.