LAFAYETTE — A three-member committee formed to lay the groundwork for a search for Lafayette Parish’s new school superintendent may start its work this week, School Board President Mark Allen Babineaux said Tuesday.
Babineaux said he and board members Hunter Beasley and Tommy Angelle will jump-start the search process, but as of Tuesday, no date for a possible meeting had been set.
It’s the first search for a superintendent in 11 years, when the board hired James Easton — later ousted in 2007.
Since then, the district has been led by Burnell Lemoine, who was promoted to superintendent as an interim replacement.
But in lieu of a search in 2008, the board voted to extend Lemoine’s contract through 2010. Last year, his contract was extended again through Dec. 31, 2011.
Lemoine recently announced he plans to retire rather than consider another contract extension through May 2012, as pitched by Babineaux to prevent a midyear transition.
Rather than hire a search firm or consultants, the board voted in May to conduct its own search for a replacement.
The Lafayette Public Education Stakeholders Council has appealed to the board for public involvement and transparency as it maps out its search. The council is a coalition of several nonprofit groups and institutions, including the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
At the board’s June 1 meeting, LaPESC’s president Margaret Trahan, who also is president of the United Way of Acadiana, asked members to consider “cost-free alternatives” to support their search efforts.
Since then, Trahan said LaPESC members have met individually with board members to share those cost-free alternatives, which include administrative oversight from either Teach for America, the Louisiana Department of Education or ULL.
The third-party group would provide assistance with administrative duties associated with the process, such as candidate correspondence or interview scheduling, Trahan said.
Third-party involvement is a “better way to position (the search) as a process that’s completely transparent,” Trahan said.
Babineaux said the search committee’s goals are to set the structure for the search.
The plan is to engage the community in the process, but to what extent has not been decided, he said.
In 2000, the board worked with consultants Webb and Associates. Consultants met with the public early in the process for feedback on qualities desired.
At that time, the board had a tighter timeline with then-superintendent Mike Zolkoski announcing in July 2000 an October 2000 departure.
By October 2000, the board had considered 36 applicants and had a short list of five potential candidates. Within a month, it had completed contract negotiations with its first choice, who backed out, and by December had voted to give Easton the job.