Column: superintendent search
I hope the Clark County School District’s Board of Trustees has learned a valuable lesson as a result of its superintendent search. The lesson is that an elected board can give away its authority, but not its responsibility.
If the comments from board members after the initial search are an indicator, then I believe they are now on the right track. It appears that at least some members of the board are fed up with the superintendent search committee headed by Sig Rogich.
Board members are complaining that this committee has continually acted outside the mission originally set by the board. One board member stated that, “Time and time again, they’ve come before us, given us a report on activities that are outside the parameters we’ve set and we just have to take it and move on.”
Personally, I believe it was this search committee that was responsible for the small number of people applying for this position. Besides working for the district and serving on the state Board of Education, I also serve on a couple of national boards. Listening to these people from around the country, they felt that Clark County was looking for a non-traditional candidate who was not local.
That was exactly the message I got when I first heard what this committee was doing. This committee’s actions resulted in experienced people not bothering to apply. Hopefully, their role in the superintendent search will be diminished greatly and Clark will end up with a much larger pool of applicants that include current school district employees.
You might also remember that this same committee had trouble with the open meeting law and was cited for non-compliance. It was also this committee that recommended the much maligned search firm from Chicago to the board that did less than an admirable job in checking candidates’ backgrounds for the board. The increase in salary also originated with this group.
The search committee was created by the board. Some of the members are seen as influential in Nevada’s political arena. In fact, three of them served on Gov. Kenny Guinn’s election team.
It is the result of this wealth or celebrity prestige that causes so many problems. These guys want to do their business in the back room, out of the sight of the public. Even though it’s messy and causes controversy, boards are supposed to do their business in public, under the scrutiny of the public, in the light of day.
If it wasn’t so serious, it would almost be comical when one member of the search committee indicated that an assistant DA’s opinion of an open meeting violation would be overturned when brought to Clark County DA Stuart Bell’s attention because of friendship.
That brazen attitude is probably attributable to locally elected or appointed officials trying to get close to what they consider wealthy or prominent people in the community who want to be treated as privileged.
An editorial in the Las Vegas Sun last week suggested that a road right of way took more than two years to get done because the county commissioners were dealing with people who carry a lot of green, hence influence. The editorial noted that if the county wanted to establish a right of way with us ordinary folk, it would not have taken nearly so long.
The superintendent search committee created by the school board has not served the people or the students of Clark County as well. I believe it actually reduced the number of people willing to get in the candidate pool. It’s past time the board thanked them for their services and moved on. The students and the community deserve to find the best candidate available, not a pool of candidates artificially restricted by the rich and famous.
The board has been blamed for the failed superintendent search because it is the board members’ responsibility. If hiring is their responsibility, then they better use their authority to name the next superintendent without this outside interference.
Bill Hanlon, a Las Vegas educator, is a member of the Nevada Board of Education. His views do not necessarily reflect those of other members. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.