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Yet Another Candidate For Superintendent Withdraws, Reducing Interviews to Two

| January 27, 2014

Kevin Perry, a start teacher and administrator in St. Lucie public schools, has withdrawn from contention for Flagler school superintendent. (St. Lucie Public Schools)

Kevin Perry, a start teacher and administrator in St. Lucie public schools, has withdrawn from contention for Flagler school superintendent. (St. Lucie Public Schools)

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.

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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.

pamela-tapleyWhen the board discussed its short-list last week, it had little enthusiasm for names beyond Perry, Parla, Oliva and Tapley–and plenty of criticism for some of the other names it did discuss.

“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.

Suggested Interview Questions for Superintendent Candidates

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12 Responses for “Yet Another Candidate For Superintendent Withdraws, Reducing Interviews to Two”

  1. Rob says:

    First they placed a ringer on the selection committee board.
    Next a number of them are on record for supporting the acting superintendant.
    If all that is not enough they also publicly devalued candidates, (the ones that were left). Much the same way a pawnbroker devalues a sellers merchandise or a used car dealer devalues a buyer’s trade in. The public devaluing of a candidate easily allows justification for picking one candidate over another.
    And finally they refused to pay travel expenses to the final candidates. Heck I got expenses paid when I interviewed for an IT position in another state.

    Based on their behavior the results were quite predictable.

    Most of the competent external candidates wouldn’t waste their time with this group of yokels.

    Repost the position and don’t dissuade potential candidates, otherwise this was a complete farce, just as I predicted.

    • Tampa Native says:

      Dear Rob,

      When I applied for an open position in Flagler County and received and interview, I did not get my travel expenses paid or my moving expenses. If you are applying for a position that pays you what it does and already make money in your current position why should this come at the expense of the county. Technology today allows for interviews to take place in an electronic format if they do not wish to pay for the chance to earn a six figure salary, plus benefits.

  2. BIG JOHN says:

    Methinks something is rotten the state of Flagler County.

  3. blondee says:

    Well Jacob, looks like you just got yourself a promotion.

  4. Genie says:

    I don’t know Mr. Perry, but something tells me these children missed a great opportunity to get to know an interesting man.

    I hope this is not a charade to grease the spot for a pre selected candidate.

  5. Pastor Jones says:

    one down and one to go. I wonder how the school board will get rid of the last one. I see that this school board can not be trusted. I know what I must do, and I will talk to others about doing it also, we will speak at the ballot box at the next school board election.

  6. JL says:

    I think it’s sad that people think a white superintendent cannot do a fair job to all races. I believe Oliva will do a great job. I’m getting kind of tired of hearing people bring up the race card. How about this, we’re ALL equal and ALL deserve the same chance. Yes, that includes white people. Or is that not politically correct to say. My vote goes to Oliva, because he’s the right person for the job. Period.

    • A.S.F. says:

      And I am sick of hearing White people bring up the phrase “race card” every five minutes, as if they have a case to be made with that ridiculous statement. It’s usually the defensive complaint of choice for disgruntled conservative Caucasians who like to believe that they are the victims of terrible abuse by a system that has favored them since our nation’s inception–A fact that they would like to blithely dismiss as being of no importance at all. In other words, it’s sour grapes, when they don’t get exactly what they want, exactly the way they want and expect it. Or, maybe it’s just Karma–one person’s well-deserved fear has now become the basis of his counterpart”s paranoia.

    • Nancy N. says:

      Allow me to repeat myself: I am white. I have no problem with a white superintendent. What I have a problem with is the good ‘ol boy network shoving their chosen candidate down the public’s throat in this farce without even taking a serious look around to see if there MIGHT actually be a better candidate available to lead the district at what is a very challenging time in many, many ways.

      Frankly, this whole process is leaving a really bad taste in my mouth because the board is being so backhanded about it, and not listening to public opinion on the issue but instead just manipulating the process to get their chosen outcome while patting the public on the head and saying “we had an open process and this is what we got”. It’s disingenuous at best, dishonest at worst, and these are not qualities I appreciate in my elected officials – especially the ones charged with educating my child. What kind of example is that to give to kids?

  7. Say What? says:

    @Genie – “I don’t know Mr. Perry, but something tells me these children missed a great opportunity to get to know an interesting man.”

    I bet you can show 95% of elementary students in the county a picture of former superintendent Valentine, and most of them would ask, “Who is that lady?” Just sayin’…

  8. Unionized says:

    This is pathetic and insulting to our community.

  9. Mike says:

    I would not have traveled here on my own dime either, why make a wasted trip knowing the position was already filled. Andy dance and his merry band of followers have had this position filled before Valentine ever resigned, patetic leadership by our school board yet once again.

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