Interim superintendent to be named by June 14
A search for the Interim Superintendent of Greenville Public Schools is underway as Janice Page-Johnson steps down from the position, effective June 30.
At the May 23 board meeting, during discussion of replacing Page-Johnson, a board member reprimanded the leader of the district.
Board member Emmanuel Edmonds made a motion to open the position of interim superintendent.
“We are dealing with a shift in the district now and we want to restore faith and transparency back into the district,” Edmonds said. “So we should have it open to anyone.”
Page-Johnson defended the district.
“I’m sorry, but restore faith and transparency – no that's not right,” she said. “We should be fair and clear here.”
Board president Loretta Shannon said she would not allow Page-Johnson to communicate in such a manner.
“I can't allow you to have outburst like that because it interferes with discussion at hand,” Shannon said.
Page-Johnson offered to remove herself from the meeting and vacated the room.
“I will come back after you all are done talking,” she said.
The method of pursuing an interim superintendent was brought up for discussion by trustee Shirley Cartlidge.
“We should go for an interim because we are late in getting our advertise,” Cartlidge said.
Shannon said if the board acquires an interim, details of the position should be clarified.
“Are we going to allow this person to serve months or years? Would that person be eligible to serve as superintendent or do we decide to search for a superintendent,” she said. “I will say in my experience, most districts end up choosing the deputy superintendent as their interim.”
Shannon said school boards often transition the interim to the position of superintendent, which saves money.
“We heard in our report that the search will cost $10,000 plus. If we do not do the search, we can do something else with the money.”
Trustee Doris Thompson agreed with Edmond’s desire to have the position advertised.
“I would like any person who want to apply for this position to do,” Thompson said, noting individuals in the district may still apply.
Cartlidge echoed their comments.
“We would do it the same way we would do the superintendent and find someone that is fit for us,” Cartlidge said. “I know we are trying to save money, but we are at a point where we have to move forward.”
Jan Vaughn, trustee and vice president of the Mississippi School Board Association, said the most common practice of districts filling the seat of superintendent, is to move an assistant superintendent to the interim position.
“Normally in districts who have assistant superintendents, they are trained to step into the position in the event the superintendent can’t perform their duties for whatever reason – leaving or illness,” Vaughn said. “I think it would be best for this district that our deputy superintendent would step in as interim superintendent and continue to pursue our search with the Mississippi School Board Association.”
The legality of using the deputy superintendent as an interim superintendent was discussed.
Trustee Dorian Turner said it is legal to do so, providing the qualifications for the position are met.
However, that action is only legal for the position of assistant superintendent, which narrows the board’s number of candidates to one – Glenn J. Dedeaux.
Vaughn said she is confident in Dedeaux’s abilities to serve as an interim superintendent.
“I feel like we are wasting time looking for an interim when we have a deputy superintendent who qualifies for the position,” she said. “We are talking about an interim at this time, not appointing a superintendent.”
Turner said the law makes no distinction between permanent or interim positions.
“To serve as either you have to meet those qualifications,” Turner said. “Your deputy superintendent would automatically meet the qualifications because he fits in the grandfather clause.
“If you serve as deputy superintendent or as the statue states a assistant superintendent, that would be the same as deputy,” she continued. Anyone else who didn’t have current experience as superintendent or assistant superintendent within the last five years and those are the people we have to vet, and that process would take some time.”
Shannon reiterated the time constraints facing the board.
“I’m saying we are going out wasting time looking for an interim,” she said. “I feel like we have a qualified person in the second place. Why not just move them up and go on about our business?”
Edmonds motioned to advertise for interim superintendent for a period of two weeks, with the application period to close June 6, allowing for a period of resume reviewing and to select a candidate for the position no later than June 14.
Thompson second the motion, which passed despite the nay votes of Vaughn and Shannon.
Vaughn reiterated her perspective.
“I just want to say for the record, I’ve never heard of that happening for an interim before,” she said. “I think it is awkward that we are doing this because we have a qualified person.”