School board needs to act, not sit and wait

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 21, 2007

The issue: The school board&8217;s selection of a superintendent.

Our position: A superintendent is needed now. The school board should act.

Recently, the Selma City School Board met in closed-door session to discuss the hiring of a new superintendent. After awhile, near the end of the executive session, a school board member left the rest of the body. She was visibly shaken.

Email newsletter signup

Something had happened in executive session. The public is left to wonder what, especially since she didn&8217;t rejoin them after the other board members emerged, but chose to sit in the audience.

Barbara Hiouas won&8217;t discuss publicly what happened to touch her so deeply.

Other school board members also have declined to talk about what happened behind closed doors.

School board members went behind closed doors to discuss the hiring of a superintendent. At that point, the selection process, which was open and conducted with a great deal of public participation, had narrowed the candidates to two &045; Dr. Yvette Richardson and Dr. Donald Jefferson.

Dr. Richardson is from Fairfield. She has no known connections to Selma other than having consulted with Selma City Schools during the creation of the district&8217;s early college high school program.

Dr. Jefferson is a native of Selma. He served as principal of Selma High School, his alma mater.

The school board is divided 4-4 over who to hire.

Most recently, board members declared they couldn&8217;t reach any kind of agreement. And a compromise candidate out of the four finalists didn&8217;t emerge.


The public doesn&8217;t know the criteria in the end for the tie breaker. School board members, when asked, didn&8217;t anticipate a standoff, as reported by the Times-Journal, so they didn&8217;t plan for a contingency in the event of a dead heat.

So, we ask, what happened

behind closed doors? Why did one school board member come out of the session in tears and threatened to quit her position?

Additionally, why has the school board simply thrown up its hands, and said it can&8217;t deal with the selection process anymore? What derailed the school board?

Members of the school board set such a shining example of openness in government during the selection process that the public has to wonder what happened to create the quagmire that the school board says it has become bogged down in as of late.

At their last meeting, a majority of school board members voted against a public forum to talk about selection of the new superintendent.

This was a mistake.

While we don&8217;t agree with the Rev. S.M. Nelson that the school board members all should resign, we would encourage them to rethink their position about public voices determining the next superintendent of education.

The last thing we need now is to sit around and wait for a superintendent to drop out of the sky. School board members were selected to do a job. Sometimes the job means making tough choices under pressure.

The school board needs to act and act soon within the public arena to select a superintendent. That&8217;s the only solution to this self-induced standstill.