Superintendent Selection a Secret

Today I got the latest Virginia Coalition for Open Government newsletter in the mail, and it piqued my interest on the matter of the school board. Sarah Berry reported in the Daily Progress last week that there are now just three candidates for Charlottesville superintendent, but they’re a secret. Search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates recommended found 61 candidates earlier this month, and planned to recommend a half dozen to the board. The board has rounded it down to three, and will presumably select one from there. All members of the selection committee have to sign confidentiality agreements. No information about any of the candidates has been made public.

I have to wonder if this is a good idea. One lesson from the Scottie Griffin saga was that a lack of sunshine leads to uninformed hiring decisions; Bob Gibson was able to expose Griffin’s background even though the school board didn’t discover a single one of her rich history of scandals in the hiring process. I imagine that there are benefits to the secrecy, but with a school board seen to be unresponsive and clubby, is this going to help?

(For more background, see A Brief History of C’ville Superintendents.)

3 Responses to “Superintendent Selection a Secret”

  • I’ve got to tell you they’re not as secret as they’d hoped.

  • Short-term memory loss. The search before the one which resulted in Griffin’s hiring featured broad, public interviews followed by bandying about the names of the three finalists and which of them was preferred in what order. All three turned down CCS’s offer of a job. So we had two years of Ron Hutchinson instead.

    Everyone applying for this job already has a job and most of them will continue to hold the job they have now after we’ve picked a superintendent. If you can’t guarantee confidentiality to the applicants you don’t get a good pool of applicants.

  • But what really put the kibosh on that previous process wasn’t the names, it was the priority list, wasn’t it? (That was why I linked to the history o’ superintendents, in case people had forgotten about that.)

    I wonder how it is that so many other localities enjoy successful hiring processes while making the latter portion — once the pool is just a few people — public knowledge?

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