The East Feliciana Parish School Board voted 7-5 Tuesday to interview three finalists for the position of schools superintendent after discussing opening the selection process to additional candidates.

The board’s interviews on April 21 will be closed to the public, board President Michael Bradford said.

A committee of out-of-parish educators and parish residents interviewed 11 applicants for the post on March 30, recommending that the board accept Patrick D. Jenkins, George Norflin Jr. and Carlos J. Sam as finalists.

The board is seeking a successor to Henderson Lewis Jr., who left last month to become superintendent of Orleans Parish schools.

Board members Derald Spears Sr. and Paul Kent attempted to discuss the interview panel’s recommendations behind closed doors without naming the three people the committee recommended.

The names already had been announced, however, in an email from Bradford to board members on March 30.

Spears said he wanted the executive session “to discuss our concerns with the list of candidates we have before us,” adding he believed the board should consider other candidates.

Kent said the board faces “a dire financial situation” and may be moving too fast on selecting a superintendent.

Member Broderick Brooks Sr. argued against the closed-door session and changing the selection process that the board had accepted earlier.

“We can’t keep changing,” Brooks said.

Brooks, Rhonda Matthews, J. Curtis Jelks, Melvin Hollins, Tim Corcoran, Mitch Harrell and Beth Dawson voted for a substitute motion to name and interview the three finalists, while Richard Terrell, Joyce Kent, Bradford, Paul Kent and Spears voted in the minority.

Jenkins is the chief operating officer for the Zachary Community School System, where he also served as an elementary school principal and headed a career education center in Port Hudson.

Norflin is superintendent of Morehouse Parish schools and a native of the Felicianas, while Sam is an associate superintendent of East Baton Rouge Parish schools and is also one of three finalists for Lafayette Parish school superintendent. The Lafayette School Board’s April 22 interviews with its three finalists will be open to the public.