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New school leader search halts
May 18, 2006 12:00 am
May 11, 2006 – The second round of interviews for two finalists vying for the Wilson County Schools director position are officially postponed with the school board chair calling to "deal with" the volatile issue at the next school board meeting June 5.
Wilson County Board of Education Chair Ron Britt informed The Lebanon Democrat on Wednesday morning he postponed the interviews because he could not confirm if board members Lisa McMillin and Greg Lasater still planned to vote against a recommended director candidate. The pair last week indicated they would block an appointment until after the Aug. 3 county election, citing their reasons as not wanting to pay two directors and wanting new board members to vote on a new director.
"I haven't heard anything to indicate Lisa or Greg have changed their minds," Britt said Wednesday morning. "Nothing to the contrary, so I assume that to be true."
For her part, McMillin said board members should have seen this coming.
"We had been saying since the very first meeting … we felt this was the wrong thing to do," McMillin said about hiring a new director by July 1 and keeping him or her on board along with outgoing Director of Schools Dr. Jim Duncan. "We're very straightforward with the other two school board members."
She said her opposition boiled down to not only her reticence of two directors on staff for six months, but the selection process itself.
"This board could have hired the director, but I felt strongly that the board who is going to work with (the director) needed to hire him or her," McMillin said, pointing out Ron Britt is not running for re-election. "There is one board member running … and I have opposition, so there's a chance I'll never work with this person."
Lasater felt the potential new director should have the opportunity to meet with principals, teachers, parents and students to gain a better understanding of who will lead Wilson County schools.
"As a board member, you have to use some common sense," Lasater said Wednesday night. "I didn't feel comfortable for the first time sitting down in front of somebody, asking them 19 questions and making a determination as to whether they should be the director of schools."
He added he had not heard any negative comments from the community.
"I haven't had hardly any calls saying, 'Greg, you're wrong on this,'" Lasater said.
Finalists Mike Davis of Scott County Schools and Charles E. Thomas of Union County Schools were told Wednesday their interviews were postponed until further notice. The chair said the school board will determine on June 5 whether the candidate interviews will be rescheduled or canceled.
Britt said as board chair he could postpone the interviews, but admitted to consulting with school attorney Mike Jennings as to his authority of making such a move.
The school board chair said he would bring up the issue in a "duly authorized" meeting.
"I will bring up this issue as a point of discussion and see if they (McMillin and Lasater) have any different position than has been stated," Britt said.
Zone 1 board member Wayne McNeese said he was disappointed the interviews "can't go further."
"I thought we had two very qualified candidates," McNeese said. "We will decide as a group in June as to what to do. We'll hash it out."
Lasater and McMillin said they were very impressed with the candidates with both adding they hope the pool will stick around until August or September.
The search for a new Wilson County director of schools began when Duncan announced his retirement earlier this year. His last day will be Dec. 31.
Wayne Qualls – the consultant hired by the school system to recommend candidates for the top spot – culled four qualified candidates from a pool of applicants to be interviewed by the school board in April. Dissension and disagreement arose among board members when McMillin and Lasater objected to the hiring time line with other members saying the move to stall the appointment hurt the integrity of the process.
Mt. Juliet Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at 754-6397 or by email at email@example.com