The South Orange – Maplewood Board of Education (BOE) voted 8-0 with one abstention Monday night on a resolution to direct the district to begin soliciting proposals for a superintendent search consultant.
The vote kicks off the process to hire a new superintendent, as Brian Osborne recently announced he is leaving at the end of the month to head the New Rochelle (NY) school district.
The full request for proposals (RFP) can be found here.
Before the vote, several members of the public urged the board to include parents, teachers and community members in the search, which they said had not been done eight years ago when Osborne was hired.
“I beg you to listen this time,” said South Orange resident Mary McDonald, who asked board members to take their time and not rush to a decision.
BOE president Beth Daugherty said the board had set January 2015 as a deadline to find a new superintendent.
Zena Hardy of SOMA Parents of Students of African Descent was one of several of that group’s members who asked the board to include them in the search process.
BOE member Johanna Wright said the district failed to consider community input last time, which she said resulted in the hiring of an “inexperienced” candidate. Daugherty strenuously objected to Wright’s characterization, calling Osborne a “brilliant” choice who had overseen positive changes in the district.
Before the vote, Daugherty told Wright she was required to abstain since her daughter is a district employee, which would be a conflict of interest. Wright, who seemed taken aback, and said she would further discuss it with the board members and the district attorney.
“My understanding…is that Ms. Wright must abstain from all interviews, discussions and votes regarding the superintendent search in order to avoid violating the School Ethics Act,” said Suzanne Turner, the district’s director of strategic communications, in an email to The Village Green.
The BOE will appoint assistant superintendent for administration James Memoli as acting superintendent effective July 1, according to a district release, until the board hires an interim superintendent from outside the district.
The board hopes to award the search consultant contract at the June 16 meeting, according to the release.