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A search firm charged with finding candidates to replace outgoing Superintendent Warren Drake has given the East Baton Rouge School Board a draft of the job application and hopes to go live on Jan. 17.

The School Board plans to discuss the job packet, which includes a one-page list of “characteristics and qualifications” for the next superintendent, when it meets Thursday at 5 p.m. and is expected to approve a final version when it meets again Jan. 16.

Here a few of the desired traits:

  • A proven leader with a track record of success in public education who is an expert in finance, budgets and legislative engagement.
  • Someone who fosters a “climate of transparency, mutual trust and respect and cooperation” both inside and outside the school system.
  • An “exceptional communicator” both in writing and orally who is an “open, approachable, and ethical leader” as well as active and visible.
  • A person with experience in planning, management and decision-making “who sets clear expectations, delegates authority, but remains knowledgeable and accountable for the district’s overall progress.”
  • A “progressive leader” committed to the school system and the community “for the long term.”

Austin-based JG Consulting also gave the board a timetable for the upcoming search as well as a short report.

The firm spent much of December meeting with the public to develop this list of traits. The firm held 27 private meetings over a 15-day period, either in person or via conference call.

“In the spirit of transparency, we wanted to say all the groups we spoke with,” said James Guerra, the search firm's founder as well as its president and chief executive officer.

Those meetings included prominent local groups such as Baton Rouge Area Chamber and Together Baton Rouge, as well as national organizations such as Chiefs for Change and the Milken Foundation.

The search firm also held community forums last month at McKinley, Glen Oaks and Woodlawn high schools, and it collected 419 online surveys.

According to its suggested schedule, JG Consulting plans to accept applications from Jan. 17 to Feb. 16, or 30 days, the minimum period required by Louisiana law. The firm plans to ask applicants for a letter of interest, a résumé, a list of references and college transcripts.

In addition JG wants applicants to complete a one-page verification form on which applicants are asked to check off on 12 statements, including:

  • “I have never been nor am I currently the subject of an inquiry, review or investigation for alleged misconduct or alleged violation of the professional standards of conduct.”
  • “I have never been charged with any: (a) felony, (b) misdemeanor, or (c) major traffic violation.”

Guerra said the firm does not automatically toss out applicants who can’t check all 12 boxes, but asks them to explain in detail what prevents them from doing so.

Signing the form give JG the green light to go to current and former employers of the applicant for information related to “any substantiated reports of child abuse or sexual conduct.”

In addition, the firm also employs Durham, N.C.-based Baker Eubanks to conduct background checks on applicants. Guerra said the firm has done similar work on many other superintendent searches.

“I like to joke that if Jacques Cousteau dropped something in the Gulf, they would find it,” Guerra said.

Once applications are all in, JG Consulting will narrow the list down to the top 10 applicants, triggering finalist interviews with the ones the board likes best. The schedule calls for selecting someone by April, enough time for that person to start working in July after Drake retires.

Email Charles Lussier at clussier@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.