The pool of finalists for the Clark County School District’s top job is about to get bigger.
The School Board of Trustees unanimously agreed Wednesday night to revise the search timeline and give internal candidates a shot at the superintendent position. The “course correction,” as trustees dubbed it, followed an outpouring of community concern when the search firm put forward no internal candidates last week.
The decision delays the public interviews, which were scheduled to start Friday, by two weeks.
Board President Deanna Wright kicked off the discussion by sharing her concern that qualified internal candidates — both current or former school district employees — may have been passed over by Ray and Associates, the Iowa-based firm hired to conduct a national search.
“I just feel like we’ve been put in an awkward situation,” she said.
The other board members echoed that sentiment, expressing surprise that at least one internal candidate didn’t make the list of four finalists.
Instead, the search firm on Friday revealed the following external candidates as the four finalists: John Deasy, former superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District; Donald Haddad, superintendent of St. Vrain Valley Schools in Longmont, Colorado; Shonda Huery Hardman, who previously worked as an administrator in several large districts; and Jesus Jara, deputy superintendent of Orange County Public Schools in Orlando.
“Unless you vet locals against the outside world, you don’t really know if you have the best,” Trustee Chris Garvey said.
Community members and leaders who attended the board meeting thanked the trustees for their willingness to expand the finalist pool. Many also threw their support behind Mike Barton, the district’s chief academic officer, who has been perceived as a frontrunner internal candidate.
Lindsey Dalley, who sits on the Moapa Valley Water District’s Board of Directors, said homegrown talent shouldn’t be overlooked. He advocated for Barton during public comment, calling him a calm leader with the right personality for the job.
“When I get done, I never walk away mad or angry,” Dalley said describing their previous conversations. “I may walk away disappointed because I didn’t get what I wanted, but I didn’t walk away angry.”
But whether Barton receives an interview has not been determined.
The board decided the search firm should contact the internal candidates and get permission to forward their resume to the trustees, who will meet again April 19. That’s when trustees will discuss how many and which internal candidates to interview.
Public interviews for all superintendent candidates will take place April 27, followed by a community meeting the next day. The board expects to select the next superintendent on May 2.
The district’s superintendent, Pat Skorkowsky, is retiring June 29. The board hopes to have some overlap between Skorkowsky and his successor to ease the transition.