Monday, May 18, 2015

Waiting for (Mr. or Ms.) Right Superintendent

If I ran the Montgomery County school system ... I would not jump to have another "interim superintendent" appointed for the next school year.

Even if some of the top prospects are gone.

I would conduct an review of what happened this year - a search failure - and what happened four years earlier with Dr. Starr's selection process.  In hindsight, this is another search failure, since Dr. S left in a huff and didn't finish out his contract.

Even the search that eventually produced Dr. Weast was an initial failure.  The BOE identified Ellie Massie, who had numerous problems and withdrew after her appointment.

So - over the last 16 years, the taxpayers in Montgomery County Maryland have endured three failed searches for school superintendents.

What I would consider -

1.  Another search firm.  Clearly, the current search firm doesn't work for us.  Maybe for other counties or school systems, but not the folks in Montgomery County.

2.  A transparent process.  Secrecy is just not working.  Same for confidentiality agreements.  Meaningful community input and crowdsourcing are the way to go.  Put the finalists names out there - as many other communities do, and gauge the reaction of the crowd.  If the candidates have something to hide, chances are the crowd will find out, and sooner is better than later.  Would Ellie Massie's financial woes have been discovered earlier?   What about Josh's short fuse?  And who knows what really made Drew Houlihan back down.

We're a tough group in Montgomery County.  We need a superintendent who can work with us - our good points and our not so good points.  The job is a great job - $300,000 and a car - who ever thought an educator could get paid a real living wage.

But please- no finger pointing at anyone outside of the current selection process as scaring away other candidates.  Candidates should have researched us before they accepted the plane ticket to interview with the BOE.  If anything, we are really a pretty tame county, considering what some of the other jurisdictions can do -- think about the test boycott in Scarsdale a few years back, and the outing of the Pearson privacy package.  Oh, yes, and the Smartboard disaster - we're still  buying them in MoCo when other counties have clearly moved on.

Kudos to Krista Brick - from  who provided the following:


  1. Perhaps if the MCEA, BOE and MCPS overpaid administrators sat down and authored a document enumerating the critical Knowledge, Skills and Abilities for the candidate superintendent, then the selection process would be greatly simplified.

  2. Desired qualifications:
    1. Likes to eat out with Board of Education members
    2. Likes to travel.
    3. Can smile
    4. Unable to answer US mail, e-mail or phone calls.
    5. Unable to speak to media or hold press conferences on critical public school issues.
    6. Will only hold press conferences when the subject of the press conference will enhance the individuals personal resume.

    1. Why, you'll need to hire a Harvard admissions counselor in order to screen the pool of eligible applicants.

  3. And kudos for Magnet Mom who really got the BoE search process right!


If your comment does not appear in 24 hours, please send your comment directly to our e-mail address:
parentscoalitionmc AT