Because the job was posted upon request of the board 10 school days before the Dec. 17 meeting, the board could vote on hiring a candidate, said Justin Graham, the district’s general counsel, at the board’s Dec. 10 work-study meeting. However, he added this does not mean the board has to act and hire a candidate at that time, he added.
Board President Courtney Doyle said she had requested the job posting because three board members asked that an item be added to the Dec. 17 agenda to vote on or discuss an internal candidate for superintendent. Neither she nor any other board member know who has applied or how many applications have been submitted because by state law, applications can not be be revealed until the end of the job posting period, she said.
The board is searching for a new superintendent because former Superintendent Lance Hindt announced his resignation in May after at least four people accused him as a bully during his teenage years. In November the board unanimously approved Deputy Superintendent Kenneth Gregorski as the acting superintendent.
However, two board members—Susan Gesoff and Rebecca Fox—said at the Dec. 10 meeting they were not informed the board had posted the job opening.
"[Since the last board meeting on Nov. 12] the job has been posted internally, and I for one did not know that the job was posted internally,” Susan Gesoff said. “So I wanted to have this discussion so that I can learn how that happened and what the leadership proposes we do going forward."
Fox questioned how the board would be able to interview all the applicants between Dec. 14-17 and name a lone finalist, but Doyle said that was not what she intended to do.
Like Gesoff and Fox, board member Dawn Champaign, too, appeared unsure of what was next for the superintendent search process.
“I don’t understand the sudden rush,” she said. “The job opening closes this Friday, Dec. 14—three days prior to our next board meeting, which is one week from today. Is that when we will vote?"
Champaign said after the Nov. 12 board meeting she came away with the impression the board was delaying the hiring of any superintendent after she, Gesoff and Fox wanted to discuss using a national search firm—to learn if Gregorski or others inside the district are the right person for the job or if an outside candidate was interested—and conducting community input on the hiring process.
At the Dec. 10 meeting Champaign, Gesoff and Fox reiterated their desire for a national search firm and community input.
Divided board and community
Board members Bill Lacy, Ashley Vann and George Scott expressed their own desire for a candidate hired from within the district and expressed confidence in Gregorski.
They described a tense, divisive community and environment that would not attract a quality candidate. They also expressed concern a superintendent hired outside the district may not support the board's work on its five-year strategic plan for improving the district.
Lacy and Vann echoed board member George Scott’s statement, “There are times when you go outside. This is not that time.”
Doyle expressed frustration at the process for finding a new superintendent. She said two years ago the board had asked for community input, which lead to the hire of Hindt, but then community members forced him out.
“I love this community, I really do," Doyle said. "This community put me here. ... But where was that community when this was happening to him. I do have to question that."
Several community members, including a handful of previous board trustees, spoke about the superintendent search process during the open forum session at the Dec. 10 meeting. Divided like the board, some urged the board use a search firm to find all interested and qualified candidates, while others supported an internal candidate.
Despite these conflicting opinions, many asked the board to come together and vote 7-0 to approve the district's next superintendent, including Melissa Nixon.
"You all need to find a way to come together, find a process that you all can agree on because this district is worth working for, worth fighting for,” she said. “And [if] Mr. Gregorski is the superintendent, or whatever you decide, they all deserve a 7-0 vote. You need to work together to figure out how to get us there.”