School Board should slow selection process
By Times editorial
Published March 12, 2007
If members of the Hernando County School Board needed any substantiation that they may be moving too quickly in their quest to hire a superintendent, now they have it.
Thanks to Times staff writer Tom Marshall, the board learned last week that two of the six finalists they had invited to interview for the job had misrepresented - and that verbiage is generous - their professional histories. One, Craig Bangtson, has withdrawn from consideration, and the viability of the other, Lorenda Tiscornia, is in limbo.
Shame on both for stretching the truth in a profession where the public's expectation is accuracy and absolute honesty.
That said, the School Board should be embarrassed and annoyed at these eleventh-hour discoveries. After all, they paid $5,000 to Wayne Blanton, president of the Florida School Boards Association, to help them screen the finalists that were culled from 37 to six by an appointed committee of volunteers.
In addition to Blanton's blatant lapse, the district's personnel department should have more closely scrutinized the finalists' resumes.
But the board bears its share of responsibility, too, for being eager to speed up the timetable for interviews and for actually considering the possibility of offering the job to one of the finalists Thursday, the same day it has scheduled the interviews one right after another. Talk about relying too heavily on first impressions!
Board member Sandra Nicholson already sounded the alarm on that matter, saying last week, "The whole thing seems rushed, as far as I'm concerned." Maybe her colleagues are listening more closely now.
The board should narrow the field to two candidates and then take some time to conduct thorough background checks on them, including talking or visiting with people in their home school districts, and gathering the opinions of Hernando County residents who care to weigh in on the candidates. If it's still a close call, the board should not hesitate to schedule follow-up interviews. And if they still are not happy with their choices, they can appoint or hire an interim and start a new search.
Hiring a superintendent is an extremely important decision that will have an impact, either in the classroom or in the pocketbook, on everyone in Hernando County for years to come. It is not an undertaking that should be hurried, or that relies on the good intentions of people who haven't done their homework.