Carson City school board moving forward with Stokes hiring
Appeal Staff Writer
Last week’s decision by Carson City School District trustees to offer Human Resources Director Richard Stokes a contract for the superintendent position without conducting a general search or hosting a formal interview process continues to stir interest.
Some parents and trustee Joe Enge have aligned to implore the district to further explore Stokes’ background and willingness to do the job before his contract is codified.
Enge was the lone school board member to vote against entering negotiations with Stokes right away.
The quality of Stokes’ qualifications has not been called into question, however, said Enge.
“(After the meeting), I called Mr. Stokes to clarify personally that I have a great deal of respect for him,” Enge said. “I believe he’s an excellent candidate … I just still question how things were conducted.”
Enge said his concern began at the Feb. 12 board meeting that was supposed to be a “brainstorming” session to find a replacement for outgoing Superintendent Mary Pierczynski.
“I was shocked at that meeting,” he said. “It wasn’t any kind of brainstorming, it was ‘this is what we’re going to do.’
“The discussions we were supposed to have are exactly the ones that need to be held in public. If the public can’t see that in action – that’s a problem.”
Enge acknowledged it’s too late to turn back on negotiations with Stokes, noting he’d like to see more of Stokes publicly if he is to take charge of the district, the city’s largest employer.
Trustee John McKenna, who spearheaded the effort to offer Stokes the superintendent position immediately, said this week that his decision was the right one.
He also acknowledged that Stokes, as the district’s new spokesman, should be subject to some form of public scrutiny during his hiring process.
“Am I amenable to some kind of (interaction) between Stokes and the public? Of course. Will it happen? Most likely,” he said. “I think it’s needed.
“The question in my mind was whether to hire him first and have him explain what he’s going to do, or the other way around. If Richard’s going to assume the superintendency, which is a managerial duty where he has a lot of interaction with the public, he has to do that, he has to get used to standing up in front of (the public).”
Pierczynski, who announced her retirement in January and will be leaving the district after seven years at its helm, would not comment on the situation.
“It’s understandable that she’s not involved in this process,” McKenna said. “Dr. Pierczynski is not in this. She’s out of the hiring and negotiations loop. Her job is to pass the gavel when the time comes.”
Efforts to reach Stokes on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
McKenna said Stokes is focusing on hiring a new principal for Carson High. Outgoing principal Fred Perdomo also recently announced his retirement.
“It’s not easy trying to find a leader for a school of 2,500,” McKenna said.
Parents interested in finding out more about new and potential district hires and its processes are encouraged to visit Carson Middle School at 3:30 p.m. today.
McKenna will host an open question-and-answer session.
• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.