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Superintendent Application Window Closes With Just 20 Applicants, Several of Whom Are Already Disqualified

| January 18, 2014

jacob oliva flagler county superintndent search

Jacob Oliva, the acting superintendent, is a heavy favorite for the permanent post. (c FlaglerLive)

The deadline to apply for school superintendent in the Flagler district passed at midnight Friday with no last-minute rush: just three applicants were added to a short pile Friday morning, including that of Assistant Superintendent Jacob Oliva. None were added in the hours leading up to the deadline.

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In all, just 20 candidates applied, an unusually low number for superintendent postings across the state, but perhaps not a surprising number considering the circumstances in Flagler, where Oliva is a heavy favorite.

At least five applicants have already been disqualified for not meeting the minimum requirements, including about half the applicants from Florida, and one from Palm Coast.  The dearth of applicants and the thinned pile of qualified applicants boosts Oliva’s candidacy.

The 12-member search committee the school board appointed will be meeting Tuesday morning to weed through the qualifying applicants and settle on three to five names the committee will recommend to the school board. The Tuesday meeting was scheduled to be an all-day affair, giving members plenty of time to go through the applications, debate them openly and rank their choices. But the all-day meeting was set on the assumption that there would be many more applicants, and that the search committee members would not have had a chance to familiarize themselves with the applications broadly.

Initially, the district had planned to limit search committee members’ exposure to the applications to a four-hour window, last Friday, requiring the members to examine the applications in person, at the district office, and limiting their ability to copy or take notes. That approach was scrapped early last week when it was pointed out to the district that constraining access to the applications–which are a public record–in that manner would have been illegal.

Board Chairman Andy Dance asked that the district post the qualifying applications to the district website, as they have been. All applications, including those that did not qualify, have been posted below since Tuesday, in a table that’s been updated daily. The full roster of applicants, including each of their full applications, is accessible below.

The school board is also meeting on Tuesday, for a workshop at 5 p.m. and its regular meeting at 6 p.m., but the superintendent search is on neither meeting’s agenda. Rather, the board will be meeting in special (and, of course, open) session on Thursday, Jan. 23, to discuss the search committee’s recommendations and decide what applicants may be interviewed. The time for that meeting is not listed on the school board’s site.

Janet Valentine. (© FlaglerLive)

Janet Valentine. (© FlaglerLive)

There was no mystery over whether Oliva would apply. But his application provided one nugget of news: the first explicit and unequivocal endorsement by Janet Valentine, technically still the superintendent, that she be followed by Oliva. Valentine hired Oliva as her assistant superintendent in June 2012, but also as part of her succession plan, so the recommendation was not a surprise. But given the respect Valentine commands, it may add weigh to an already heavy favorite.

“I wholeheartedly support him,” Valentine wrote, “not just because he is the current Assistant Superintendent, but because he has the knowledge, vision, motivation, and high standards needed to turn the district into one of the nation’s premier learning organizations.”

Valentine suffered a stroke just before Thanksgiving and has been recovering since. She announced that she would not be returning to work, though her contract does not run out until July 1. The new superintendent is not set to begin work until then, with Oliva filling the post during that period, giving him yet another advantage over his competitor: he’s been essentially interviewing for the job, on the job, since November, and burnishing a level of trust and confidence he already enjoyed from a majority of the board.

Valentine said she chose Oliva as her assistant “without hesitation,” referring to the executive leadership of the district as “our leadership,” and pointing out that under that leadership, Flagler rose to the 11th highest ranked district in the state by performance, out of 67. Valentine described Oliva’s leadership as “visionary,” outlining his abilities sector by sector in the sort of detail and language that would make even Valentine–to whom insecurity has never been a character trait–the lesser of the two, had she been a candidate.

“Administrators, teachers, and support staff respect Mr. Oliva,” Valentine concluded. ”

Every applicant has filed glowing recommendations, most rivaling Valentine’s in tone and enthusiasm. The difference is that none could relate that enthusiasm to this district, its staff and dynamics.

“With every challenge he encounters in his role as Assistant Superintendent,” Valentine wrote on Jan. 10, knowing that she was referring to Oliva in his role as an actual superintendent since her departure, “he identifies the organizational stumbling block and designs a systems approach to jump the hurdle. To achieve this, he has worked with staff, community, and business partners to seek solutions, keeping students as the primary focus and number one priority.”

Superintendent Candidates, Flagler County Schools 2014 Search (Final Tally)

Current Location
Current Job
Heather BeckLittleton, Colo. Chief Academic Officer, Jefferson County Public Schools (85,000 students)
Eve BreierLas Vegas, Nev. Campus college chair, University of Phoenix (since Nov. 2011)
Michelle BurgessSt. Augustine, Fla. Assistant principal, San Jose Catholic School (since 2009)
Jean CampbellNarragansett, R.I.Retired. Was an assistant principal and district administrator for secondary reform and special projects.
Nolan CorreaFort Sumner, N.M.Superintendent, Fort Sumner Public Schools (300 students, 39 teachers), since April 2013.
Migdalia GarciaMidway, Ga. Executive director, Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools
John GreenSuwanee, Ga.Not employed. Volunteers. Was last Superintendent of Jacksonville County Board of Education (5,500 students) for one year until June 2013.
Anita JenningsPalm CoastInstructor, Kaiser University
Carl JonesPalm CoastNot employed. No listed experience in education. Retired from Air Force. Has a temporary certification in athletic coaching.
Ronnie MackinMillington, Tenn. Self-employed as an education consultant.
Mary MurrayMoore, Okla.Mentor/instructor at Western Governors University's Teachers College since Nov. 2013
Jacob OlivaPalm CoastActing superintendent, Flagler County Schools, was assistant superintendent.
Danny OsborneFrankfort, Ky.Education recovery leader since Oct. 2012, working with low-achieving schools.
James ParlaLawrenceville, N.J.Superintendent, Hamilton Township School District, since 2012; 13,000 students. Was superintendent in three other districts since 2004.
Kevin PerryPort St. Lucie, Fla. Assistant superintendent, St. Lucie Public Schools.
Christopher QuinnStafford, Va. Assistant superintendent for instruction, since 2005.
Hubert Tracy SanfordDahlonega, Ga. Regional director responsible for two charter school sites, since June 2012.
George StalliardCoconut Creek, Fla. Dean of business affairs, Broward College, North Campus, since 2007.
Pamela TapleyOrlando, Fla.Assistant superintendent of high schools, Osceola Public Schools.
Andrea TownsendDayton, OhioDirector of Springfield City School District, managing several areas, including elementary education, student services and curriculum, since July 2012.
Click on the candidate's name to access the full pdf of the application.


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9 Responses for “Superintendent Application Window Closes With Just 20 Applicants, Several of Whom Are Already Disqualified”

  1. Nancy N. says:

    This isn’t a search. It’s a coronation. I don’t know why any other candidate would bother wasting time in applying unless they enjoy being the loser in a game of charades.

    And frankly the way that the district has gone about it makes me lose respect for Mr Oliva. They’ve chased off any other decent applicants by making it obvious they intend to hire him. They’ve used their strongman to ensure the job requirements are completely tailored to fit with his qualifications. It makes it look like they didn’t think that Mr Oliva could stand out as a viable candidate without them propping him up. True or not – that is the perception that they have created with this railroading through of his appointment and that is not beneficial to either him or the district in the long run.

    • K says:

      I strongly believe this choice is going to implode. He was a weak principal, he is a poor leader, and he is a strong advocate of the good-old-boy status quo that proliferates Flagler County. How sad that our own school board is so concerned with having a puppet that our kids are getting the short end of the stick by not keeping the door truly open for this district to have the best leadership possible.

  2. PJ says:

    Oliva looks like the most qualified so far but what is really important his training wheels have been removed (since Ms. Valentine’s stroke) already and he is still riding as we speak.

    No learning curve Mr. Oliva, new folks will cost us tax payers for their mistakes to learn about our community.

    Good luck Mr. Oliva

  3. fruitcake says:

    “Just 20 applicants” that’s more than they can handle and at the end if they don’t select Oliva it will still be the wrong choice regardless of how many applicants there are….

  4. Pastor Sims Jones says:

    I agree with Nancy, and will add, a forced victory is no victory.

  5. The Baron says:

    Mr. Oliver is the right choice period. Seems like the haters are upset he’s not black or liberal enough. I look over that listing of applicants and the first thing that pops in mind is the folks listed are not happy at their current jobs or they unlike Mr. Oliver lack the skilsets to advance were they are now. So why shuuld we as tax payers want to take the burden and risks associated with someone else’s problem. If Mr. Oliver can do the job and is willing stop listeninh to the pot stirers and stop wasting: time and taxpayers money. ,

    • Nancy N. says:

      I don’t recall complaining that Mr OLIVA was not black or liberal enough. I am frankly simply concerned that perhaps it would be a good idea to consider some new ideas and a new perspective in these challenging educational times. For all the people touting that “Oliva won’t have to learn the district because he’s already deeply embedded here” – well, I don’t see that as an asset. How about bringing in someone to look at the district with fresh eyes, that isn’t ingrained in local politics and the way that we’ve always done things? Someone without pre-conceived notions about how things are done?

      And of course the list of applicants isn’t impressive! As was noted in the article and my previous comment, any quality applicants were chased off by the board’s clear preference from the start by Mr Oliva and haven’t even bothered to apply to participate in this charade. Anyone with half a brain knows it is a waste of their time and energy. Had the board NOT telegraphed its clear preference for Oliva from the start, the list of applicants would have looked much different! Would you bother applying for a job if before you filled out your application the employer said to you “we’re really going to hire this guy over here, but we have to make it look like we actually had a public search so we’ll take your application if you’d like” – I bet not.

  6. Citizen says:

    What a waste of money, time, and resources. The board has already stated their preference. No other candidate will be looked at as a serious contender which is a real shame. I viewed all of the applications, and I found several with skills to rival or surpass those of Olivia. My wish is for a fair and diligent process and selection, but I won’t hold my breath.

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