school-boardDuring their May 2 meeting, the Plymouth School Board allowed a handful of  local residents to share their concerns of the process of naming a new superintendent for the school corporation. Current Superintendent, Daniel Tyree, will be retiring effective June 30 of this year.

Applications for the superintendent position were closed on Friday. The Board will be interviewing the final candidates on May 9 that were chosen from a total of 17 applications.

The concerns expressed by local businessman, John Webster, and Jeffrey Zalesny, Marshall County Witness, and others centered around the process of hiring a superintendent without public input.

Zalesny spoke up during the audience participation portion of the meeting asking, “Will the public and/or parents have an opportunity to be involved in the selection and any part of that or the process for a new superintendent?”

Board President, Todd Samuelson, indicated that they would give a little latitude to hear their concerns, although it was not on the Board’s agenda. Audience comments are restricted to agenda items only.

After hearing the suggestion that the final candidates should be a part of a public gathering that they termed a “meet and greet”, Samuelson responded saying, “It is not a part of the process. The school board has certain responsibilities. I do believe in a representative process.”

Audience members continued to press the matter saying the process should be like candidates running for council seats when the public can interact with them.

After several more comments from the audience, Board Attorney, Jeff Houin, clarified the legal aspects. Houin said the Board members are elected; however, the superintendent is a corporation employee. Houin said, “The hiring of a superintendent is a personnel matter.”

Webster, who owners a local ice cream business said, “The person I hire to scoop doesn’t have the effect that a superintendent would have on our community.”

Connie Nicholl commented from the audience saying, “We can “unelect” you (board members), but we’re stuck with a superintendent.”

Board member Larry Pinkerton said, “If the superintendent doesn’t do the job, we would fire him.”

After the meeting, Houin clarified the legal position saying, “Superintendent applications and interviews cannot be made public because it is a personnel matter and must be confidential by law.” He added, “The school board members are elected officials and represent the public. As the governing body of the school corporation, the board is responsible for hiring the superintendent. However, the superintendent is an employee of the corporation and the hiring process is subject to the same employment laws as with any other employee.”


Carol Anders Correspondent