It has been nearly two weeks since all three candidates for the DeKalb Schools’ superintendent job withdrew their names from consideration and the school board has yet to announce its next move.
The board had previously set a deadline of July 1 to hire a new superintendent. Now, the board has the option to either start from scratch or advance some of the other candidates on the list.
Some, like David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators, say that the school board shouldn’t worry about the deadline.
“They need to take their time and hire the best person for the job,” Schutten said.
Under their contract with search firm Ray and Associates, the board has the option to reopen the search or advance candidates who didn’t make it initially to the final round.
However, Schutten said that the search firm hasn’t lived up to peoples’ expectations. The three candidates who were chosen as finalists all came from districts with fewer than 10,000 students compared to DeKalb’s 99,000.
“I think people have lost faith in the search firm. I think they look real foolish,” Schutten said of Ray and Associates.
On top of the looming deadline the system has also been given eight points to address by AdvancED, the parent corporation of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
AdvancED placed the system on advisement earlier this year. Finding a permanent superintendent is one of the eight points that also included redistricting/consolidation, performing an internal audit and developing an action plan for monitoring CRCT testing.
“[Advisement] basically means that concerns have been identified and the school system has at least taken some initial steps at addressing those concerns…and if they follow the required actions that they’re given they should be on a trajectory to move [forward] and then [get on a] cleared status,” said Jennifer Oliver, a spokeswoman for AdvanED.
“As far as the superintendent search goes, we’ll be looking to make sure that the board is following its own policies,” Oliver said.
Tasha Walker, whose daughter goes to Hooper Elementary, said that she thinks the board should advance one of the candidates rather than open up another search.
“Why should we, as taxpayers, trust or believe anything that you put before us?” Walker asked the board at a recent budget meeting as she reminded them of all the problems the system has had over the past several years.
Some are speculating that Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson might want the position but School Board Chairman Tom Bowen said that it hasn’t been discussed by either the board or Tyson.
“The board has not officially asked Tyson to reconsider nor has she approached the board and shown any interest in the job,” Bowen said.
Bowen said he has gotten varied feedback from constituents around the county. Some who didn’t like the candidates said that this gives the board a chance to find ones more qualified. He also said people have told him that this is an opportunity to bring in someone completely new or hire Tyson.
“I think there have been those that have questioned the firm and what its role should be but it’s a pretty specialized business that has a limited number of candidates and I think people underestimate what the candidate pool is,” Bowen said of Ray and Associates.
Some are also worried that the board will rush to meet its July 1 deadline to stay on track but Bowen said that its main goal is to be as thorough as possible no matter how long it takes.
“That’s a self-imposed deadline, so were going to take as much time as [we need] to get the right person,” Bowen said.