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School board takes up question of finding DPS’s next superintendent

“The most important thing a board does is choose a superintendent,” said chair Mike Lee as members of the Durham Public Schools Board of Education began discussing how to accomplish that task at a specially called meeting Wednesday, April 19.

Board members shared initial thoughts about how they thought the process should go during an open conversation in the Board Room, and decided to put the following topics on the agenda for their next full board meeting:

  • A tentative timeline, including discussion of whether it would be possible to hire the next superintendent prior to the retirement of Superintendent Bert L’Homme, meaning an interim superintendent would not be needed.
  • What sort of superintendent search firm or similar organization might be contracted to support the school board.

The members strongly advocated for public input as the superintendent search proceeds. “I want the community to be heard,” said Lee. “I want the teachers… principals… parents… students to be heard.”

“Staff, teachers, principals, you are first in our minds,” said Minnie Forte-Brown. “Parents, your input will be valued.”

Other aspects of searching for the next superintendent were raised for future consideration, including how wide the search should be (internal vs. external; local, regional or national), how to identify stakeholder priorities and how to involve community partners.

“Deliberation doesn’t have to be slow,” said Xavier Cason.

Each board member prefaced his or her comments about the superintendent search with praise for the current superintendent. L’Homme announced his retirement effective August 4 to the school board at the end of its April 3 work session.

Lee said that L’Homme “came to right a ship” and highlighted the creation of the county-wide Code of Student Conduct Task Force.

“I don’t think we can say enough about the integrity he has brought to the position,” said Steven Unruhe.

“Thank you for your dedication to all of our students,” emphasized Matt Sears.

The board will next discuss the superintendent search at its Thursday, April 27, board meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room at the Fuller Building, 511 Cleveland St., in downtown Durham.