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WBR Schools Superintendent search narrows to five

Written by Aaron Williams on . Posted in Local

The West Baton Rouge School Board received the final report on the search for a new superintendent during a special meeting held Wednesday, April 30, at the school board office.

Sandra Sims-deGraffenried, associate from BWP and Associates consulting firm, stood before the school board and reported that she and her firm had narrowed the search for a new WBR superintendent to five candidates.

The board will be responsible for interviewing the candidates and choosing who will fill the place of outgoing superintendent, David Corona.

The superintendent position became available after Corona announced his retirement, effective at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

Corona did say, however, that he would stay on for a short period, if needed, to help with a transitional period for the incoming superintendent.

“We’ve looked at the pool of candidates. It was a good pool of candidates. We were very pleased, and we think you will be too,” said Sims-deGraffenried. “We felt from the beginning that our task was to take the input from you guys and gals and your community, help you craft that position announcement that defines what you all want and then you’ll prove it. We kept that forefront in our minds.”

Sims-deGraffenried reported that 23 candidates from nine states submitted materials for consideration for the position. Eleven of the candidates who applied were from Louisiana, while others were from as far as California and New York, including four from Texas.

“You are a strong attractor from the southeast, and Louisiana especially,” she said.

In BWP and Associates’ Consultants’ Report, the firm wrote that they had identified five highly qualified persons to recommend to the board.

“These persons, in our professional judgment, best meet the leadership characteristics and criteria published by the West Baton Rouge Parish Schools’ Board in the vacancy announcement and best match the leadership office,” the document reads.

Sims-deGraffenried said, moving forward, the board must hold interviews with the candidates of their choice and choose the candidate they believe suits them best.

“Hopefully you will be able to find the right person to come in and – I can’t say replace David Corona, because nobody’s going to replace him – they’re just going to take the job and the title behind him. We hope that’s going to work well for you,” she said. It is the most important decision that you will make as a school board member.

The five candidates BWP and Associates identified as the top candidates are as follows:

Dr. John Jackson – retired superintendent of Oconee County School District in Watkinsville, Georgia and current administrative liaison for the University of North Georgia. Jackson received his Doctorate Degree from LSU, and all other degrees from McNeese State University.

Dr. Charles Michel – supervisor of special education for the Lafourche Parish School Board in Thibodeaux, La. Michel received his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Nicholls State University and his Doctorate from Sam Houston State University.

Dr. Victoria Miles – director of general education support for Keller ISD in Keller, Texas. Miles received her Bachelor’s Degree from Southern University before going to California State University for her Master’s, ending with a Doctorate at Saint Louis University in Missouri.

Frances Annette Mire – associate superintendent of human resources and staff development for the West Baton Rouge Parish School System. Mire has worked in West Baton Rouge since 2004 – she worked in East Baton Rouge from 1981-2004 and received each of her degrees from LSU.

Dr. Amy Westbrook is a former superintendent of St. Helena Parish, Executive Director of the La. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Deputy Superintendent of the La. Recovery School District, and current principal at Chamberlin Elementary School in Port Allen. Westbrook received all of her degrees from LSU except her Bachelor’s, which she received from George Washington University.

Jason Manola, WBR School Board President said that the board will decide the details of each interview during their May committee meeting.

“During committee meetings, we’re going to identify how the interviews are actually going to take place. We’ll talk about whether, before the meeting, we want to have a public meet and greet. We’ll also talk about the interview questions; we’ll develop interview questions that we’re going to ask them,” he said.

Manola said that the board has blocked off the last two weeks in May to conduct the interviews, and the board, during the committee meetings, will decide whether they will interview only the top five candidates presented to them, or if they’ll choose to interview other top choices from BWP and Associates.

“We’ll determine whether we’re going to interview all five, whether we’re going to do five plus one or two, maybe a couple more. I don’t know what will be discussed,” Manola said, adding that the interviews will likely be done publicly. “Last time, we had the interview in public, but we also went into executive session in case (board members) had some confidential stuff we can really ask them and (candidates) can feel more at ease to discuss, but we’re going to talk about that – no decisions have been made yet.”

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