Still feeling a little uneasy about Monday’s school committee meeting, and not sure of what the undertone was, I gave a call to Dr Mike McNamara to get some first hand input.
You see, from an observer’s point of view, it looked to me like he was putting forward a motion to review the process used to select Principals.
In actuality, he was asking to have a meeting with the Superintendent and the committee used to help search for the Principal that had just been hired.
His request was quickly rebuked by Ron Mercier as an attempt to micromanage the Superintendent and have the board go beyond its role.
This was a fair argument, but I also see that setting policy is a role of the committee. If there is no written policy on this procedure, then I see it as a discussion that should be had.
“The Superintendent has the legal authority and the legal responsibility to hire the best person for the job,” McNamara told me. “He doesn’t have to use an interview team, but if he uses one, he should show some respect an accept that their input has value.”
He went on to explain that the Superintendent does have access to additional forms of information on candidates that may go beyond that of the search committee, so what occurred in this selection process could be understandable. McNamara just wanted to feel out the parties involved to resolve whatever problems had occurred.
McNamara was not specific in this, but I have heard from others that the search committee felt that their input was not valued. They presented a slate of candidates, and it was sent back to them for further review. This happened a number of times until the current candidate landed on the list, and was finally selected by the Superintendent.
Whether this is an exaggeration of the situation or not, its what was floating around out there, so Dr McNamara was trying to settle the issue by giving the search committee members a forum to present their issues and receive a fair response from the Superintendent.
McNamara tried to make the point in the meeting, and I believe Bonnie Elie did as well, that search committee members put a lot of time and effort into these efforts. If they come out feeling undervalued and disrespected then they will not participate again, and others will learn of this and do the same.
I do understand Mr Mercier’s issue of keeping the School Committee in thier proper role. I also have to argue that protecting the town’s integrity is part of that role, as is setting a hiring policy that is designed to support the Superintendent’s hiring of the best candidate is as well.