Yet Another Candidate For Superintendent Withdraws, Reducing Interviews to Two
FlaglerLive | January 27, 2014
The new Flagler County school superintendent may yet be appointed by default, if only because all other applicants have been eliminated or are dropping out on their own.
Kevin Perry, an assistant superintendent in St. Lucie County schools, is the latest candidate to withdraw from contention. He had been moved into the group of three individuals to be interviewed Thursday when another candidate who’d made the short-list, James Parla, a school superintendent in New Jersey, withdrew immediately after a reporter contacted him to inquire about his application. Parla said his application had not been serious.
Perry was the St. Lucie County Teacher of the Year was among five finalists for the state title. He was also catching intertest locally by a sogment of the black community that’s been pushing hard to have a black candidate considered for the job, because of the district’s enduring achievement gap between black and white students.
“I’m respectfully withdrawing my application at this time,” Perry wrote ion an email to the district over the weekend. He gave no explanations.
Perry’s withdrawal leaves just two names on the interview list for Thursday: Jacob Oliva, the current acting superintendent, and Pamela Tapley, an assistant superintendent in Osceola County schools. Both remaining candidates are white.
“It’s disappointing. I was looking forward to hearing from Mr. Perry,” School Board Chairman Andy Dance said.
When the Flagler County School Board drew up its final list of interviewees last Thursday, it nominated only one substitute candidate–Perry–should one withdraw.
“The board would have had to have held an emergency before Thursday” to add another name to the list, Board Attorney Kristy Gavin said Monday afternoon, “and I have not received any request from the board to do so. Theoretically they could do it,” but the likelihood that the third candidate would be interviewed by Thursday would be slim.
“It would be disingenuous to bring them in at this point so we’ll proceed with Ms. Tapley and Mr. Oliva,” Dance said.
The board also made clear that it would not be paying for the travel or accommodation expenses of the candidates, a decision that may have played a part in candidates’ withdrawals.
The two remaining candidates will be interviewed at 9 and 11 a.m., with Tapley going first. The interviews will take place in the third-floor Training Room of the Government Services Building in Bunnell. The interviews are open to the public. The interviews will also be available live by webcast, through the district’s website. Following her interview, Tapley will be taking a guided tour of the district.
The board will not vote on a new superintendent on Thursday (Jan. 30). Board members want time to do their own research on the candidates–or, at this point, on the one contender beside Oliva, since board members have a thorough working knowledge of Oliva’s history and style–and give Gavin time to conduct background checks.
The board had originally planned to meet in special session at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 4 to deliberate and make its choice. That plan, too, has been scrapped. Instead, the board will made its decision during its regularly scheduled board meeting later that day, beginning at 6 p.m. That meeting has a light agenda, so Dance decided to incorporate the decision about the new superintendent within it. (Monday afternoon Dance said that his intention had always been to discuss the matter at the regular meeting.)
It’s not an inconsequential decision: had the board met in special session, it would have met with no one sitting in the superintendent’s chair, the way it did last week when it drew up the short-list. But by deciding the matter at its regularly scheduled meeting, Oliva, who has sat on almost all school board meetings as the acting superintendent, will most likely be in the superintendent’s chair, unless he either chooses to leave the room during deliberations or is asked to leave by the board. Oliva has been the strong front-runner for the position all along. The more likely scenario is that he will be asked to be the next superintendent of schools.
The superintendent search committee that met four times to draw up its list of recommended names to the board also drew up interview questions (five of the committee’s 15 members actually provided questions). Those questions appear below. They will be supplemented by questions the board members themselves will pose, and which they are not disclosing until the day of the interviews.