Well, one pitch and one out later, the HCSD school board decided to expedite superintendent search and make an offer to their second-choice candidate, without unanimous agreement.
No one knows for sure what happened for three board members to agree–after the first vote on this candidate failed 2-3, and one board member then changed his mind days later–and leave the other two in the dust in voting to make their offer. Perhaps it was out of frustration and that voting this way would end months and months of tiresome meetings, interviews and conflict. Perhaps these three were convinced that the candidate to whom the offer was made is the best choice to lead the district out of probationary Level 2 status, despite questions raised during recent meetings about the candidate’s issues with being able to be bonded by the district’s bonding agency. Perhaps these three felt that the $85,000-per-year-salaried position couldn’t wait any longer to be filled, and that a better candidate couldn’t be found.
No doubt about it, the search for the next superintendent of the separate Hazlehurst City School District has been painfully long. The board’s decision to contract the search out to the Mississippi School Board Association was wise. But, why end the search now? Since the district is on probation anyway, why not appoint an interim and continue looking for the absolute best possible candidates through the MSBA’s legwork? And, why make such a critical decision without the conviction of all five board members? Why not wait until after the school board election on March 1 to see what the stakeholders in the district say?
The right person for this position is still out there. Whether they be white or black, male or female, native of Hazlehurst or from out of town, there are more than just three qualified candidates. And, there is one person out there that can lead the district out of the state’s shadow and create a highly-accomplished and highly sought-after learning environment. The board members just have to keep searching.
JOE BUCK COATES