Tues., June 18, found the school board in yet another special meeting. Item 4A, “Convene to Closed Session,” on the agenda revealed in three words the heart of the meeting: “Interim Superintendent Selection.” Little else came to light.
The most recent interim superintendent, Tony Roehrick, nicely paid to the end of June, has not been seen in the district since June 10 and rumor has it that his office was cleared of personal effects.
The highly touted candidate from Temecula Valley bowed out on the day that she was to sign a contract “for personal reasons” according to Board President Leff Brown. No official word has been given about who now leads the district after the school board.
The situation now necessitates two job searches: the permanent superintendent and another interim superintendent. The second becomes necessary to prevent rush to judgment selecting the permanent superintendent.
In the school district’s forty-year history, there have been six interim superintendents. The first one, Terry Littleton, the standing curriculum director, served for one semester, during the fall of 1987. Classes met, teachers showed up, students learned, even though the district and the community had just undergone a major change as the elementary year round calendar had been dropped by the former superintendent.
During the 1990s other superintendents left and were replaced by retired administrators. Education continued. Teachers and students did not miss a beat. At the end of 2002, a superintendent opted out of her contract and another retiree guided the district through the spring of 2003.
The last interim prior to Tony Roehrick, Robert Haley, took advantage of his position to move into a permanent position while side stepping School Board Policy 2120 Administration that calls for a thorough search. However Haley’s tenure is judged, for better or for worse, the fact that SBP 2120 Administration was not used stands as a lesson for following process and policy.
The school board is charged with one of its most important duties, working to hire the leader of the district. SBP 2120 states: “Whenever it becomes necessary for the board to fill a vacancy in the position of superintendent, the board shall work diligently to employ a person whose management and leadership abilities are most closely aligned with district needs.” It says nothing about finding someone who has a vision to bring to the district.
The policy then lays out the process that includes consideration of “the district’s current and long-terms needs, including a review of the district’s vision and goals.” Not the candidate’s vision and goals, the district’s vision and goals.
And it’s the board that establishes priorities of the desired characteristics, abilities, traits and levels of knowledge. The current board followed its policy by hiring a professional advisor to facilitate the process. The advisor involved the community in certain phases of the selection process.
And the board followed its own policy even when guided by a professional adviser: “Even if a professional adviser is used to facilitate the process, the board shall retain the right and responsibility to oversee the process and to review all applications if desired.” Because this active school board sees this responsibility as its most important charge, it has been doing a careful and extended search to find the top quality superintendent who has the characteristics and qualifications that it has identified.
The clue from the agenda, “Interim Superintendent Selection,” suggested different possibilities for the June 18 closed session. The board may be hiring an interim superintendent, the board may be discussing possible candidates, salary and length of contract, or possibly an internal temporary promotion.
When the board reconvened to open session, nothing was reported out, leaving us with conjectures, knowing only that at some point a superintendent or an interim will be hired. No power brokers, these five representatives of the community are working diligently and carefully to fulfill their responsibility in the best interests of the students and the educational community of Cotati and Rohnert Park.