MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The committee tasked with leading the search for the next Memphis Shelby County Schools Superintendent unveiled their three finalists to the school board — but board members did not seem impressed with the candidates.
Hazard, Young, Attea, and Associates, presented their finalists to the board Saturday morning.
“We are not going to just accept this,” said MSCS board member Althea Greene. “If there is another candidate then that is up to the will of the board to say that. We appreciate what you have done but what I hear is, it’s just not good enough.
MSCS interim superintendent Toni Williams was one of the three finalists. However, board member Sheleah Harris questioned her qualifications.
“Why would you present a candidate for the largest school district in Tennessee with no background as an educator or a school leader?” Harris asked.
Micah Ali of HYA said this is not an uncommon occurrence.
“Throughout the country there have been numerous superintended employed in large urban systems without instructional experience, there is a tremendous amount of examples. and as labeled this candidate would be considered a none traditional candidate,” Ali said.
Brenda Casselius, the CEO of consulting company LeaderProof LLC, was also one of the finalists. She served as middle school academic superintendent of then-Memphis City Schools from 2004-2007.
Board member Keith Williams didn’t appear to be on board with her being in the top three spot.
“Brenda Cassellius has had her time here. I am just wondering, can we see everyone who applied?” Williams said.
Carlton Jenkins, the current superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District in Madison, Wisconsin was the third finalist. After seeing the firm’s top three choices, the board members asked HYA to see the names and resumes of all 34 people who applied.
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“The 34 candidates, we asked for that a long time ago. So, I don’t know why we don’t have it. It’s Saturday. We are here on a Saturday morning and we as a board we feel unprepared,” Harris said.
When the meeting was over, Max McGee with HYA said they will do whatever the board asks.
“Every board is different every board is unique. We work with the board we work for the board at the will of the majority of the board. So, it is great to have clarity today if they want to see all 34 applicants they are certainly entitled to see that,” McGee said.
After Saturday’s meeting, instead of sending out the names and qualifications of the top three candidates, MSCS sent out the following:
“Our board had some concerns with the finalists who were proposed by HYA and its process for selection, so we are taking a step back. HYA will contact all candidates and ensure they are willing to remain in the process, then we will publicly release the list for full transparency,” said Althea Greene, MSCS Board Chair. “While we believe all of the proposed finalists are viable, we must have a level of confidence that they are truly the best for this critical role.”
As it stands, interviews for the remaining finalists for next week have been cancelled. MSCS said that all pertinent information regarding the finalists will be shared once they have been confirmed.