Richland School District to hire new firm for superintendent search

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 2, 2013 

The Richland School Board will not hire the consulting firm that recommended Superintendent Jim Busey who was fired recently from the district.

The board decided during a special public meeting Friday morning to seek proposals from other Washington consultants to find a new superintendent.

Board members said they have heard concerns from the public about using the same firm that brought Busey to the district, as well as suggestions that the district delay its search.

But board members said they want to move ahead so they can have a superintendent at the helm by the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.

"I'm looking forward to looking and seeing what else is out there," said board member Mary Guay.

The board dismissed Busey on Jan. 22 after more than two months of investigation into two relationships he had -- one with an employee at Jefferson Elementary School and another with a woman who supervised student teachers in the district but is not directly employed by the district.

The board said the relationships violated the morality clause of Busey's contract.

Rich Puryear, the district's finance director, is acting superintendent, and he has said he doesn't want to remain superintendent permanently.

Board members initially said they wanted to stick with Northwest Leadership of Spokane, specifically with one of their representatives, Gene Sharratt, citing his and the agency's connections and access to good candidates in the state.

But Chairman Rick Jansons and Vice Chairwoman Heather Cleary said Friday that they heard concerns from members of the public about how well Northwest Leadership was vetting candidates.

"There's been quite a bit of feedback," Jansons said.

Jansons said he also has spoken with officials at Northwest Leadership about the situation. The firm wants to be supportive of the district's search efforts, but said it shouldn't be involved if that would raise questions about the quality of candidates it recommends.

Along with seeking proposals from other consulting firms, two board members will review the packet of information sent to prospective candidates. The district also will advertise the position through the Washington Association of School Administrators and other statewide publications.

Board members said they are working on a tight timeline but are optimistic they can find a good superintendent.

However, they said that if a good candidate can't be found before mid-spring, they will delay the search because by then most superintendents are locked into their positions for the new school year.

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