Continuing opposition to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s choice for state superintendent of education means the acting superintendent will serve indefinitely, officials said Thursday.
Jindal said last month that he wants John White, superintendent of the Recovery School District, to become interim state superintendent of education, which means he would hold the job until January and maybe longer.
Stephen Waguespack, who is Jindal’s executive counsel, said Thursday the Governor’s Office remains committed to White and plans to renew its push for him getting the job now that the 2011 regular legislative session is done.
But opposition from a block of four on the 11-member state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has kept White from landing the job.
Unless one of the four has a change of heart, or a compromise candidate emerges, Ollie Tyler will keep the job with the title of acting superintendent, which is considered temporary.
“I would think now that the longer it goes the more likely that Ollie will serve as the interim” said Walter Lee, a member of BESE who lives in Mansfield.
Tyler, who is paid about $210,000 per year, said Thursday she has told BESE she is willing to keep the post until an interim or permanent superintendent is named.
The state superintendent of education is the governor’s chief lieutenant for public schools.
The superintendent recommends and carries out policies that affect an estimated 668,000 public school students statewide.
Paul Pastorek quit the post in May.
Tyler served as deputy superintendent under Pastorek.
She is former superintendent of public schools in Caddo Parish, which includes Shreveport.
Jindal needs eight of 11 members of BESE to clear the way for White.
But four BESE members oppose the governor’s choice, and three reiterated that opposition on Thursday.
The fourth, Louella Givens, of New Orleans, did not return a call for comment.
The other opponents are Linda Johnson, of Plaquemine, Dale Bayard, of Lake Charles, and Keith Guice, of Monroe.
Johnson has said she opposes Jindal’s pick because White just started his job as superintendent of the RSD, which oversees 14 troubled schools in Baton Rouge, about 70 in New Orleans and others elsewhere.
Bayard said Thursday he remains concerned about White’s credentials.
White, 35, is former deputy chancellor of the New York City school system.
“I think experience is important, credentials are important,” Bayard said.
He added, “Ollie is doing a good job.”
Keith Guice, another foe of White taking the job, said the state needs someone who can work with Louisiana educators.
Guice, Johnson and Givens abstained when BESE approved White for RSD superintendent on April 8.
Bayard cast the lone “no” vote.
Lee, who said he is undecided about the selection of White, said he told Stephen Waguespack, Jindal’s executive counsel, that he would consider backing White if seven other BESE members did so.
“I have asked Waguespack to see if they could find a candidate that would be more acceptable to the educational family,” said Lee, who is superintendent of the DeSoto Parish school system.
In an interview, Waguespack said the Governor’s Office “will start talking to BESE members, stakeholders” on the need for a reform-minded interim superintendent and that White is an ideal fit for that description.
Under state law, BESE can only offer an interim superintendent a short contract until a new board takes office in January.