Geneva Board of Education urged to delay superintendent selection process | News

GENEVA — Two former members are urging the Board of Education to halt its superintendent search, which has already yielded a front-runner in just a few weeks, and without publishing the vacancy.

Meanwhile, the school board president insists that while he may have a candidate to fill the seat Patricia Garcia vacated last month, a decision to appoint him will not be made without a “very thorough investigation,” something some Community members believe there was a fault in Garcia’s hiring.

Jessica Bailey and Amy Jackson addressed the board during public comments at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting. Each had words chosen for the superintendent’s search, but also for board members involved in the previous selection process that resulted in Garcia’s appointment, the subject of a school board-ordered investigation into a complaint filed against him. .

Garcia was accused of creating a hostile work environment for some teachers and staff, according to sources who provided the Finger Lakes Times with information. Garcia was acquitted in the report. Garcia and the district parted ways last month, with Geneva agreeing to pay Garcia $390,000 as part of a separation agreement.

Given what happened with Garcia, Bailey and Jackson urged the Board of Education to delay finding a replacement. Kathleen Davis serves as Interim Superintendent until a selection is made.

The district announced last week that it had already launched the search for a new superintendent, but instead of posting the position, the board invited selected candidates to apply, with first-round interviews held over the February break. He did not disclose to the public that he planned to interview candidates.

A candidate included in those interviews is under consideration for appointment. Jackson said the board is said to be ready to hire Lawrence “Bo” Wright as its next superintendent. Wright, currently superintendent of the Rush-Henrietta Central School District, did not respond to an email requesting comment on whether he is the candidate the board is considering.

Bailey said a “mistrust” developed in the school board due to Garcia’s hiring and the current search only fuels that perception.

“I don’t think you’re setting yourself up, the district or the (new) superintendent for success,” he said.

The election of selected candidates, unlike a public search, “is not open or transparent,” Bailey said. “Did you accept (Garcia’s resignation) a month ago (ago) and now you’re ready to name?”

Jackson, who served as director of Geneva 2030, the private organization whose charge includes improving student outcomes, told the board that his “most important job is hiring and supervising the superintendent… In this very important job, you failed.” She said the decision to narrow the 2020 search to replace Trina Newton, who was later retiring, turned out to be a mistake. She also doesn’t understand why the board failed to identify numerous “red flags” regarding Garcia, who had left two other districts while receiving large cash payments.

“The best of you was not good enough in 2020,” he said, claiming that he urged then-chairman of the board, Dr. José Canario, to delay the selection process.

“I implore you now to do better, be better,” Jackson said.

On Tuesday, board president Stephanie Annear defended the superintendent’s selection process but would not answer whether Wright is the candidate the board is considering.

“Starting with strong, selected candidates who fit the profile of the community saves the district time and money,” he said. “The board is excited about the initial interviews we had and the candidate we chose to move forward, but we will not hire anyone unless we believe we have the right person after we have completed a thorough investigation. The board has made all decisions in the process unanimously.”

Bailey called for members to resign, while Jackson said he would “resign” if he were a member of the school board.

Bailey said mistrust in the district could result in residents rejecting the 2022-23 budget. A vote on the budget and school board seats for the election will be held on May 17.

Davis said he understands that people may not be happy with what has happened in the district in the last two years, but he urged voters not to punish the children of Geneva, who he said would suffer the consequences of a defeated budget. .