Education

Wake schools begin looking at headhunter firms

Posted June 1, 2010

Wake County Public School System
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— Wake County school officials Tuesday began sorting out whom they will hire to conduct their search for a new superintendent for the 140,000-student district.

The North Carolina School Boards Association was first on a list of four proposals to look inside the system, as required by district policy, then possibly outside, to find a replacement for Del Burns.

Burns told the board early this year that he would resign effective June 30 because he could "not in good conscience" go along with a decision by the board majority to drop a policy of trying to balance economic diversity in all the district's schools partly through the assignment process.

The board put Burns on administrative leave shortly after and named Donna Hargens, one of Burns' assistants, as interim superintendent. It's not know if Hargens will seek the job permanently.

The board named a Search Committee led by member Debra Goldman to handle the process.

Association executive director Ed Dunlop told the board it would have no shortage of candidates because he has been receiving at least two phone calls a week from people wanting to know when the search will begin.

The committee had narrowed its list to four firms, but Goldman told the group Tuesday that one firm had pulled out because of other commitments it had made since first submitting, and a firm that had proposed charging $110,000 for the search and had been on the list of rejected proposals had dropped its price to $82,500.

DHR Consulting, whose original price matched the new one from Heidricks & Struggles, withdrew. The committee voted 2-1 to put Heidricks & Struggles back into the mix.

The school boards association led the search process that resulted in Burns' promotion to superintendent. With a search service it began about 10 years ago, Director of Policy Allison Shafer said, the association has worked with 12 of the largest 20 school systems in the state.

Durham's recent decision to hire Eric Becoats as superintendent came after an association-run search, she said.

Shafer stressed that the association helps find candidates but does make a single recommendation.

 "The public elected you" to make the decision, Shafer told Goldman's panel and other board members who attended.

Shafer also said that searching for a superintendent and agreeing on someone to hire "could be a very positive and healing process" for the board, which has had many 5-4 splits over the policy changes, which also have generated heated public comment at board meetings.

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  • tgiv Jun 1, 2010

    The "horrific damage" by the previous board landed Wake County with the 2nd highest graduation rate amongst the 50 largest districts. I'd gladly take that record over the rank patronage machine that has been put in place now.

    If you don't live in a neighborhood where these crooked politicians till for contributions, then you are nothing in this county. To provide their favored neighborhoods with more time to mull over the "emergency" calendar/assignment changes the board jammed through, they forced every parent in the county to wait an extra month for magnet school decisions.

    They campaigned on calendar "choice", and now want to force all magnet schools to year round calendars. The reality is the board is for choice--as long as you live in one of their favored neighborhoods.

    The patronage machine needs to be stopped. It's time to implement a system where board members are responsible to the entire county instead of a sliver of favored constituents.

  • ncguy Jun 1, 2010

    Save some money,

    I'll be a puppet for a six figure salary...

  • kenshi Jun 1, 2010

    DontLikeTheSocialistObama... well since Obama is not a Socialist I'm not sure what your screen name is supposed to mean.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jun 1, 2010

    "If they really cared about the future of Wake County schools, they would step down. But they don't, so they continue to inflict damage that will take years to repair. - ncwebguy"

    You've got it backwards, it's going to take them years to undo the damage that the previous failure of a school board inflicted on the Wake County Schools.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jun 1, 2010

    "I don't see why they would need to hire a headhunter to fill this position. All they need to is put an ad out there that says "Puppet Wanted" and that should fill their needs. - Smiley30"

    This works well. Same thing happened when the previous failure of a school board hire Del Burns to be their puppet.

  • Smiley30 Jun 1, 2010

    I don't see why they would need to hire a headhunter to fill this position. All they need to is put an ad out there that says "Puppet Wanted" and that should fill their needs.

  • ncwebguy Jun 1, 2010

    Time and again the school board majority has demonstrated it is *not* smart enough.

    The people who voted for them are less than 10% of their districts, and their districts are overweighted (fewer residents per district) to give them more power.

    If they really cared about the future of Wake County schools, they would step down. But they don't, so they continue to inflict damage that will take years to repair.

  • raggy116 Jun 1, 2010

    "The public elected you" to make the decision, Shafer told Goldman's panel and other board members who attended.

    If they're not smart enough to find someone themselves then they dont belong in their current capacity.

  • Adelinthe Jun 1, 2010

    Pick one from Wake County for heaven's sakes.

    This going out and getting one from AZ or WA to pay with Wake County tax dollars is absurd, when there are enough good headhunters right here in the triangle.

    God bless.

    RB