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School Board votes Friday on superintendent finalists after bomb threat, two candidates drop out

Birmingham City School Board-Central Office (Google Maps)

By Chanda Temple

Birmingham Board of Education

Birmingham City School Board-Central Office (Google Maps)
Birmingham City School Board-Central Office (Google Maps)

The Birmingham Board of Education will meet for a special called board meeting on Friday, April 21 at 5 p.m. at the Central office to select two finalists for superintendent.

Board members interviewed three candidates on Wednesday for superintendent. Originally, there were five candidates. However, Dr. Timothy Gadson III, superintendent designee and executive director of curriculum and schools for Robbinsdale Area Schools in Minneapolis, Minn., stepped down from consideration on Sunday, April 16.

Dr. Ronnie Dotson, superintendent of Carter County School District in Grayson, Ky. stepped down hours before his Wednesday interview. Both cited the community climate connected to the selection of the next superintendent as reasons for removing their names from consideration.

Dr. Dotson also cited a bomb threat called into the Central office during one candidate’s interview as another reason he decided not to continue with the process.

“He felt that due to the climate, that he could no longer continue,’’ Board Member April Williams said of Dotson. “He apologized profusely. He even offered just to go through the interview if it would save face for Birmingham.’’

“But what broke my heart was for him to share, with so much passion and conviction, his desire to help lead Birmingham. (He compared) Birmingham City Schools with the school system where he currently is.’’

The building was evacuated and searched. No bomb was found. Employees soon returned to the building. Williams said it was very concerning when a small fraction of the community can have such a negative impact on the quality of education in Birmingham.

The interviews continued after lunch today because “we owe it to 24,000 students, the families that we serve and our employees to stay focused on this process and finalize it with securing the best available superintendent to lead Birmingham City Schools,’’ said Williams, who’s also head of the district’s superintendent search committee.

The three candidates interviewed Wednesday included:

Dr. Garrett Brundage, chief officer of Safe Schools/student affairs/assistant superintendent of administrative services for Rockdale County Public Schools in Conyers, Ga.

Dr. Lisa Herring, chief academic officer for Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Ky.

Dr. Regina Thompson, chief of teaching and learning for Richland County School District One in Blythewood, S.C.

To see recordings of the interviews, visit: https://livestream.com/bcs/events/7290958.

The board is interested in community feedback. An online survey is now available for Birmingham citizens and Birmingham City Schools’ employees to provide feedback on the candidates. The survey will close at 12 p.m. on Friday, April 21. For the survey, visit: http://www.bhamcityschools.org/Page/31449.

During the April 21 meeting, the school board will review the candidates’ materials, interviews and community feedback; compile scores; and select two finalists. The meeting is open to the public.

The two finalists will have interviews the week of April 25. Dates and times for those interviews will be available soon. Those interviews will also be open to the public.

A second survey seeking public input on the two finalists will be placed on the district website at the close of the last of the two interviews. The date of when the second survey will be posted and the deadline for citizens to reply to the surveys will be given soon.

Board members will review all of the scoring data on the two finalists and meet to vote on a superintendent on Tuesday, May 2 at 5:30 p.m.