April 29, 2014

Controversy continues to surround search for new CPS superintendent

Jessica Lane, Staff Writer,
The Express-Star


Chickasha Board of Education members Ted Bingham and Chris Ludwell did not participate in the executive session to review specific resumes for candidates for superintendent and to consider employment of the superintendent. 

At the beginning of the meeting, the board initially heard a report from the Superintendent Search Committee. 

At a previous meeting this committee was defined as consisting of one representative from each school association: CASE, CUTA and COPA (support, teachers and administrators) and two community members chosen by each board member. 

Dwain Sehon was selected as the chairperson of the Superintendent Search Committee. 

Sehon stated that community support has been important in not only the selection of past superintendents, but also in past school projects such as the safe rooms for the Bill Wallace Early Childhood Center, the common area at Chickasha High School and the walking path at the new gym. 

Sehon said the community has been "an extra pair of eyes and ears" in the process of defining qualifications for the superintendent and may be able to see things that the board is "too close to see." 

The committee presented a packet to the board which included suggested qualifications and sample questions for an oral interview given by the school board members. There was also a space provided for a Superintendent Search Committee member to take notes during these questions. 

The front page of the packet states: "The committee believes that it would be appropriate to obtain the advanced consent of the candidates for the committee members to participate in the oral interview as stated above." 

"The quality of person hired is far more important than rushing or speed," Sehon said. 

Chickasha Board of Education President, Julie Badgett-Sinn, reminded Sehon that at the last meeting the board stated that attorney's had advised against committee members being a part of the interviewing process. 

Sehon responded that he believed the attorneys to be in error. Others at the meeting questioned whether the attorneys understood the situation. 

"We don't want to do anything that puts us in possible liability," Badgett-Sinn said. 

The board was in executive session for about three hours before reopening the meeting to the public. A notation was made to the executive session minutes compliance statement that Ludwell and Bingham had chosen not to be a part of the process before the resumes were unsealed, Badgett-Sinn said. 

Ludwell said in a statement,"I believe that the constituents of the school, parents and community members should be an integral part of selecting the next Superintendent.  That process has proven to be successful for CPS in the past and see no reason that the people appointed by the board should now be excluded from the process.  This is a very time sensitive issue and feel that the board should reconsider to have search committee more involved."

Bingham declined to comment at this time. 

The board will hold a series of special meetings next week to begin interviewing candidates beginning at 6:30 p.m. on May 6 and 6:15 p.m. on May 7, 8 and 9.