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Friday, March 14, 2008

A Secret Search? Arguments Always the Same...

The Temple Daily Telegram in Texas filed a Freedom of Information Act request Thursday with the Temple school district to disclose the names of five candidates selected to be interviewed for the vacant superintendent position.

The Temple school board intends to select a sole finalist and hire that person 21 days later, as opposed to multiple finalists. While the law allows for a sole finalist, Carroll Wilson, Telegram managing editor, believes the intention of the law is to allow the community sufficient time to vet all five candidates being interviewed for superintendent.

“The Telegram has asked for the names because the public has a right to know who is being interviewed to become superintendent of schools,” Wilson said Thursday. “State law recognizes the public right by requiring school boards to name their finalists. It’s disingenuous of the school board to argue that the five people they intend to interview aren’t finalists simply because they’re not using the word ‘finalists’ to describe them. Common sense says, of course, they’re finalists.

“Particularly given the problems the school board has had in the past in the selection of and the retention of superintendents, this process should have been as transparent as possible. And now is the time for the board to live up to the letter and the spirit of the law by being as open as possible.”

School board president Steve Wright said the board is following the law and the confidentiality of the process helps bring in higher quality candidates.

“We are choosing to go with a sole finalist because we have concluded that we are doing a closed application process, to ensure the quality of the applicants we receive and protect the anonymity of the applicants,” Wright said. “Circumstances are such that those people that are actively working in districts and enjoy that experience do not wish to expose that they are applying for other jobs to their home districts.”

More here.

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