In response to the School Board’s announcement that it will consider appointing Dr. Kirk Kelly as the director of Hamilton County Schools at the regular session board meeting on Nov. 17, UnifiEd reiterated its call to community members for "an open, well-defined, and community engaged selection process for superintendent."
“Dr. Kirk Kelly is probably a perfectly qualified candidate for this position," said Jonas Barriere, executive director of UnifiEd. "His experience and passion are well known and his commitment to this community is unquestioned. However, the public, and quite frankly Dr. Kirk Kelley, deserve to have the school board transparently define the expectations, selection criteria and skill competencies informing their decision. Community members are also asking the school board listen to those most affected by their decision: our parents, students and educators.”
He said since March of this year, UnifiEd "has held numerous community meetings in each of the nine Hamilton County school districts to gather feedback on what community members wanted to see in the next superintendent. The resounding message from those meetings was that residents want a voice in this process regarding who is ultimately chosen to lead our school district, said officials.
"At the most recent school board meeting on Oct. 27, more than 50 community members rallied in support of including a robust community involvement plan in the superintendent selection process. In addition, hundreds of parents, teachers, and students wrote letters to their school board members asking for community voice in the process. Board members agreed to send UnifiEd’s recommendations to their policy committee and asked School Board attorney Scott Bennett to instruct their search firm to include a community involvement plan.
"In hopes of fulfilling this mandate in the compressed time frame now in place, Dr. Kelly has agreed to participate in a community forum on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. at Orchard Knob Elementary. This forum, hosted by UnifiEd, will engage widespread community input before the upcoming vote and will be facilitated by UnifiEd. This will give residents a chance to hear first-hand from Dr. Kelly to explore and understand how his experience and expertise will be able to meet the growing needs of our school system."
"The current board policy states that the community shall be invited to participate in the process of selecting a superintendent by suggesting selection criteria, participating in sessions with and asking questions of the candidates, and be invited to attend board interviews with the candidates,” said Ashley Conrad, director of policy and research at UnifiEd. “We invite all citizens in Hamilton County to attend and encourage every voice to be heard at this session.”
“The hiring of the superintendent is one of the biggest decisions that will directly affect the success of our schools,” said Anna Gouge, a local education advocate. “It is imperative that we, as a community, have a say in who will be the leader of Hamilton County Schools."