The search for a new Charleston Co. principal can take more than a year
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) — The search for the next Charleston County School District superintendent has yet to begin and it could be January before it begins.
Former superintendent Dr. Gerrita Postlewait tendered her resignation in December and Don Kennedy, the district’s former chief financial officer, took over on an interim basis last January, but the process of finding a permanent replacement has stalled. still in its infancy.
Board chairman Eric Mack said the process could drag on until a new board is installed in January, more than a year after Postlewait left.
The school board met in a special Zoom meeting on Wednesday to interview five companies that would lead the search for candidates.
- Greenwood/Asher and Associates
- Hazard, Young, Attea and associates
- Ray and associates
- Alma Advisory Group
- BWP and associates
Mack says they are making progress.
“Our plan is to have a more in-depth discussion on the 27th of this month at our second meeting to talk about the companies that we have already discussed and to sort of create a timeline, a timeline of when we will select a company and when the process will begin,” Mack said.
The three-hour meeting was held almost entirely behind closed doors in executive session and no decisions were made in public, but Mack says the board will meet again in June. 27 to narrow the field further. After the selection of a company, candidates for the position will be sought.
“I’m looking for someone who has made a lot of turnovers, especially with failing schools. Someone who can come and network with the community, with the stakeholders,” Mack said. “Someone who has a vested interest in really wanting to think outside the box and get creative with how we can move our kids from year to year.”
The process is comparatively much slower than recent searches for superintendents in neighboring districts. In Dorchester District 2, it took five months from the time Superintendent Joe Pye announced his retirement to the council choosing his replacement, William Robbins.
Berkeley County Schools have a similar timeline when their board hired Dion Jackson five months after Eddie Ingram announced his retirement.
Dorchester District Four took even less time to hire Gerald Wright for the top job earlier this year after Kelvin Wymbs resigned in October.
Comparing the Charleston County School District – the second largest district in the state – to neighboring smaller districts isn’t quite fair. However, Horry County Schools is the third largest and their superintendent was hired after a six-month search process seven years ago.
Greenville County Schools is the only district larger than Charleston County and its last search for a superintendent, in 2011, lasted about nine months.
Board member Dr Helen Frazier says she is completely fine with where they are now. She says it will take longer because they want to make sure they are making the right decision.
“I feel really good about the process,” Frazier said. “It’s an arduous process and we have to take our time. I was happy with the interviews yesterday. . . I think we’ve gotten off to a good start and I’m very optimistic that this council will do everything in their power to make sure the public is informed.
The district faces a unique situation this year with an election in November that could see every council member replaced.
Board member Dr. Kristen French says the election makes this process difficult.
“Given the unusual circumstances of all of the CCSD board seats up for election this year, our superintendent search is more complicated and will likely take longer than most,” French said. “I hope that our upcoming council training will provide us with the opportunity to plan to conduct a search and interview process that will benefit the newly elected council, the district, and the students.”
To keep the process from going off the rails, Mack says they plan to put systems in place that can withstand election disruptions. That could mean the board is considering forming a committee to manage the process — a committee that could be populated with board members who would continue to serve even after leaving office.
“Some of the work we are doing now is essential to really kick off this selection in January. The new board will have a better understanding of the process,” Mack said. “We can even include former board members in sharing this business because of some of the work we’ve already done.”
Mack says the new school board would still have the final say on any candidate for superintendent. At this time, there is no timetable for when a research firm will be chosen or a deadline for when the board hopes to have a new superintendent in place.
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