Leader Blues

Friday, February 26, 2010

TOP STORY >> One finalist left for school job

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

One of the two finalists for the Pulaski County Special School District’s superintendent’s job has accepted another position and has withdrawn from consideration.

Board president Tim Clark issued a written statement late Friday afternoon.

“I was informed this afternoon by (search firm) McPherson and Jacobson that Dr. Vashti Washington of Charleston, S.C., has withdrawn from consideration for that position because she has accepted a job offer elsewhere,” Clark wrote.

For now, that leaves interim superintendent Rob McGill as the sole finalist for the job.

Washington was due in Little Rock Monday evening for a public forum and to be re-interviewed by the school board members.

“As you know, during extensive discussions and considerations last week regarding the strengths of different applicants, the board had already narrowed our choice of candidates to only two ‘finalists,’ including Dr. Washington and our current acting Superintendent Rob McGill. We had determined through a painstaking process that these two were the top two choices from almost 20 highly qualified candidates.

“Thus, a second round of interviews for both Mr. McGill and Dr. Washington had been scheduled for this Monday, March 1, including a public meeting to let the patrons of our district meet and question both parties. Now, however, Dr. Washington has cancelled her plans and will not be coming to Little Rock.

“The board will follow through on its original plans for a public (finalists forum) on Monday at 5:30 p.m., followed by a second interview with Mr. McGill after that public forum,” Clark wrote. “We will continue with our plans for a special board meeting on
Monday evening to discuss the next steps in the hiring process.”

McGill’s interview with the board will be in executive session, according to spokesman Deborah Roush.

McGill, a 17-year veteran educator with PCSSD, was Pine Forest Elementary School principal when he was hired as the interim superintendent in March.

Clark had said previously that it was possible that the board would emerge from its interviews with Washington and McGill to vote on a recommendation and hire a superintendent.

Friday evening, he said that was still possible, but “the next step is to reconvene (the board) and decide where we go from here.”

“We could hire the only remaining candidate or ask the search company for more candidates out of the pool. We won’t know until we meet,” he said.

If the board hires McGill, it will mark the third consecutive time that the board has engaged a professional search company, then hired the interim candidate already in the job.

If that happens, “We need to think long and hard before hiring a search committee,” Clark said.

“Rob is a candidate, but he’s not guaranteed the job. It could be back to square one.”

Clark said McPherson and Jacobson were being paid about $20,000 for their services.

The board hired interim Superintendent Don Henderson after a professional search, then bought out his contract about a year later, naming James Sharpe interim superintendent. Then it hired McPherson and Jacobson, which launched a national search before the board hired Sharpe as superintendent.

The board bought ought Sharpe’s contract in March and named McGill interim superintendent.