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CCS Ends Controversial Supt. Search To Launch New One

The Columbus City Schools' board is launching a new search for a superintendent, after State Auditor David Yost suggested there may have been improprieties in the selection process.  Alison Holm reports. 

After a letter from the State Auditor last week alleging that school board members violated the state’s Open Meetings Act by discussing the superintendent search with the search firm in private, the board spent 90 minutes in a public meeting, debating in detail the proposal to launch a new search. Board member Eric Brown:


“One of the concerns that this addresses is that during the first search process, there were some end runs, there were some communications from individual board members to the search firm, that affected the process.”


The Auditor’s letter charged that the board had not made public all the candidates who applied for the position made vacant when Superintendent Dan Good stepped down at the end of December, that it interviewed candidates who had not applied for the position, that it selected finalists in private, and then changed that list when two candidates dropped out. Auditor Yost said board members could be personally liable for damages if an investigation resulted in citations.


The resolution that passed unanimously Tuesday night terminates the first search, and authorizes a new one. It is not immediately clear if current interim superintendent John Stanford, who was the last candidate standing in the first process, will be considered in the second.


Larry Braverman, the legal counsel who advised the board on the closed meetings, will not be involved in the new search, nor will board liaison J.C. Benton, who was the point person with the search firm.


The board also agreed to hire an independent consultant to advise the board on procedures, and a mediator to handle contact with the search firm. It is also not clear whether the search firm Hazard Young will take part in the new search.


Board member W. Shawna Gibbs said, despite the lengthy debate over the proposal to launch a new search, there are still more details that need to be hashed out.


“We’re not done; we still have to come back and talk about… how we select the mediator, and what we need them to do. So there’s still further work.”


State auditor Yost has said the decision to scrap the first search closes the book on his investigation. The district has spent and estimated $53,000 on the search thus far.

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.
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