Omaha school board discusses drama over superintendent search
The Omaha School Board met to discuss the Superintendent situation on Monday night.
Many parents who attended the meeting said they were concerned the process was done behind closed doors and not in a public forum.
And, some on the board agreed.
"I'm extremely embarrassed right now to be the laughing stock of the education community. We should all be embarrassed and we should all be ashamed," said Yolanda Williams, Omaha School Board Member.
Other board members say they dropped the ball on the hiring process.
The school board president said they don't expect to have a superintendent in place by the beginning of the school year.
They hope to eventually appoint an interim superintendent soon.
Story from NBC affiliate in Omaha, NE:
The OPS Board of Education played to a full house Monday night as the panel convened for the first time since the slate of candidates for superintendent was wiped clean over the weekend.
With the three finalists for the job removing themselves from consideration, the board goes back to work.
The members assembled at 6:30 with a big crowd looking on.
Over the weekend Dr. Paul Gausman and Dr. Khalid Mumin pulled their resumes from the table. Their joint notice of withdrawal from consideration came a week after Dr. Jane Stavem pulled her name from the field.
That joint statement from Dr. Gausman and Dr. Mumin said they were withdrawing because of what they called a, “lack of support” from the board of education.
Sources close to the search tell WOWT 6 News that the board couldn’t reach unanimous agreement on which candidate to support.
More than 20 people signed-up to address the board Monday evening. An OPS parent and teacher got the dialogue started saying the board is not focused on what is best for the students.
Another parent said she’s, “frustrated and disappointed,” with the board.
Board President Lacey Merica said it's clear there was not a consensus on making a selection and she said there will likely be an interim superintendent next year.
Board member Yolanda Williams said, "My phone is my own worst enemy right now." She said the number-one complaint she's heard is about a lack of transparency. "I'm ashamed right now.," she said. "We should all be embarrassed."
With all of the finalists for the job of OPS superintendent dropping out of the running, the school board president says an interim superintendent will need to be appointed while relaunching the search.
That word came Monday evening for Lacey Merica as the board was set to convene for its regularly scheduled meeting.
After several setbacks in their search for a superintendent, the big question tonight likely will be: What's next?
Johanna Gniffke is disappointed with the OPS superintendent search.
Gniffke is the PTA president at her children's elementary school. As the OPS Board of Education met to search for a new District leader, Gniffke made sure she was involved. She told WOWT 6 News: "I was able to sit in on one of those sessions and provide input as to what qualities I thought we should be looking for."
Gniffke thought the Board was close to making a hire, but now all of the final candidates have withdrawn their applications. Sources close to the search tell WOWT 6 news the Board couldn't reach a unanimous agreement on who to support. Johanna Gniffke wants to know why. She said: "Do they have outside influences that are prodding them and pressuring them to make a certain decision?"
Alex Gates ran for the Board last year and lost. He isn't surprised they're struggling to agree. He points to January, when it took the Board more than 4 hours and 100 votes just to choose a president. He told WOWT 6 News: "Clearly things have been very bumpy from the very beginning. It's almost set up to fail, unfortunately."
As leader of Omaha's Education Association, Bridget Donovan is afraid teachers and classrooms will suffer without a new superintendent hired for the coming school year. She told WOWT 6 News: "Everybody is highly concerned about the direction the District will take."