Recruiters hired to find the next Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent assured board members Tuesday night they will focus their efforts on a proven educator who has experience in leading an urban school district.
Some on the board expressed concern that ProAct Search may not have emphasized those requirements in a position profile compiled from a series of community meetings and interviews.
“I'm not seeing the word ‘urban' in this document as far as the preferred qualifications,” board member Ruth Veales told Eva Prokop, the firm's chief operating officer.
“It doesn't matter if someone has a passion for education who can communicate well with a certain group of people.
“If you're not speaking for the people that you are serving and understand the people that you are serving, then you are doing a disservice.”
Veales asked for the job description to include “urban” qualifications.
Oklahoma City Public Schools is the state's largest district with 46,000 students, the majority of whom are Hispanic or black, live in poverty and struggle academically.
Prokop said as many as 25 people have expressed a formal interest in the position, which pays about $175,000 plus benefits. The application process is set to begin as early as Wednesday, she said, adding that the selection process could begin as early as Feb. 24.
The school board, which hired the search firm, will also hire a new leader to replace Karl Springer, who retired in August after five years as superintendent.
A community engagement report presented to the board by Prokop and ProAct CEO Gary Solomon indicated that turning around a district that received a failing grade from the state Education Department is the highest priority.
Many gave input
She said more than 600 people provided input on the challenges facing the district and a candidate's desired qualifications and characteristics.
Board member Jay Means stressed the board's desire to find a candidate with a proven academic and administrative background who has prior experience as a principal or assistant principal.
“This is not just a business ... this is a school district,” Means said. “I certainly don't want a superintendent who hasn't taught someone to read or write.”