NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Soon after the superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools withdrew himself from the Director of Schools search, the Metro School Board narrowed down the candidates to three finalists.
Joel Boyd announced he was dropping out via Twitter early Friday morning, saying “Sante Fe is home!” and thanking Nashville for its hospitality and interest in what’s going on in his school district.
Just hours later, the Metro School Board said it has narrowed down their now-five candidates to three, selecting Shawn Joseph, H. Allen Smith, and Jesus Jara as their three finalists.
Joseph is the Deputy Superintendent of Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools, while Smith is Chief of Schools for the Oakland Unified School District in California and Jara holds the position of Deputy Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools in Florida.
“I think the fact they are young on their careers and looking to being the talent, the skill set, and the accomplishments and the strategies they employ to recognize quantifiable success among some of the more challenging populations is exciting,” said Dr. Sharon Gentry with the school board.
“Two in particular I think are quite strong, people who are essentially running the day to day operations of districts of much larger school systems,” added Will Pinkston.
“Is the fact that all three are minority status, that important? Should that be noted?” questioned Tyese Hunter. “I think it’s amazing that we are here. It’s an amazing day. I just thought about it. Something this city has shown some major progress in.”
Metro Nashville school board members also addressed lingering questions about why none of the original six candidates was a woman.
Amy Frogge tried to add Dr. Carol Johnson, who led school systems in Memphis and Boston before doing some recent academic work in Nashville.
“I just thought it would be fair for a chance to interview. I think someone with her qualifications should have had a chance to interview,” Frogge told News 2.
But her request was turned down by a board made up of eight women and one man.
Chair Sharon Gentry says women were pursued to make the slate appear better-rounded, but they were not available.
“But the well-rounded news I am looking for is well-rounded news of experience and well-roundedness of bringing change to their districts,” Gentry said.
“When the search firm started the search and they spoke, they really said ‘superman or superwoman,’ so I guess we’re going to have a superman,” added Hunter. “And we already have enough superwomen on the board.”
Mayor Megan Barry and Shannon Hunt, the executive director of the Nashville Public Education Foundation, released a joint statement about the selection process:
We were very pleased with the slate of candidates the search firm brought and the candidates the Board ultimately selected today as their finalists. It represents a diverse set of experiences and approaches and perhaps most importantly – represents the youth, energy and vision of what public education of the future can look like.
“We are also thrilled it is the single most diverse slate of candidates this city has seen in recent history for this position – including two African Americans and one Hispanic.
“We should be very proud of that as a community.”