The following letter was sent to Board of Education Chairman Steve Highlander (copying all members of the Board) on May 5, 2017.

To: Chairman Steve Highlander

CC: Joe Galloway, Karitsa Jones, Kathy Lennon, Tiffanie Robinson, Joe Smith, David Testerman, Rhonda Thurman, Joe Wingate

Dear Chairman Highlander:

UnifiEd calls on the Hamilton County Board of Education for the immediate release of its plan for the school superintendent search and selection process. This call comes after the board’s move this week to trim the list of candidates with input through private email and a decision process based upon criteria that have not been made public.

In the absence of a public plan for the search and selection process, the community is left without a transparent view of the process. It also creates a lack of accountability on the board for its actions.

We call for the restoration of transparency in this process going forward. The community deserves to know how candidates are being evaluated, when decisions will be made, and how they can be involved in this important decision impacting the future of our public schools.

Four recommendations emerged from public meetings UnifiEd held in every district in Hamilton County in 2016 on the topic of the superintendent search. For more than a year, we have called for the following elements to be included in the board’s search and selection plan to ensure community involvement in this important decision:

  • Live streamed public interviews of potential candidates
  • Public access to finalist candidate resumes online
  • Open forums for community members
  • The creation of a community advisory council

At the October 2016 school board meeting, you committed to creating a plan to involve the community in the process and indicated that the search firm’s first task should be the creation of a plan for engaging the community. You also asked that the board’s policy committee draft a plan. To our knowledge, none of these recommendations was implemented.

Now is the time to release your plan for this process that includes a community involvement component. On behalf of our community, UnifiEd looks forward to seeing this position filled by the most qualified candidate after a thorough and transparent search that takes into account perspectives as diverse as our population.

Best regards,

Jonas Barriere
Executive Director, UnifiEd