LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Over the weekend, the Lexington-Fayette National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sent a letter to the Fayette County School Board raising "grave concerns" about the superintendent search process.
The Fayette County Board of Education plans to announce three to five candidates for the FCPS superintendent Monday, May 24 before the regularly scheduled board meeting. Once announced, the school board plans to hold public virtual forums to meet candidates for the next superintendent. The forums are slated to take place online Wednesday, May 26, and Thursday, May 27 between 4:30 and 8 p.m. ET.
The Lexington-Fayette NAACP does not feel this gives the community adequate time to consider the candidates.
“The last superintendent search we were involved in very heavily. We got to meet the candidates at a social event. Got to have interview committees, and got to physically interact with that candidate. We need to do that his time,” Shambra Mulder said.
Mulder, chair of Lexington’s NAACP Education Committee is concerned that the board is using COVID-19 as an excuse to ram through the candidate its members prefer.
“If the kids can go back to school, we can figure out a way to do these meetings safely, six feet apart, however you want,” she said.
“The board could have motivation to choose someone they can work with, or want to work with, as opposed to somebody that’s going to be good for this community,” she stated.
The last hiring process that Mulder referenced from 2015 resulted in the selection of Manny Caulk. Caulk was named the state superintendent of the year in 2019. He passed away from unknown causes in December of 2020.
“I do miss him, yes,” Mulder said.
Mulder said Caulk came armed with experience leading diverse communities and feels that skill will be vital to the next superintendent. And because the hiring of Caulk was a collaborative effort, she feels it gave them a better chance of making the right hire.
“He was definitely the right choice. But this board just hasn’t been responsive at all,” Mulder said of the lack of desire to gather input from community leaders.
FCPS is a district where half of the student body is racially diverse (Black, Hispanic, and Asian), but the school board has no diverse representation. The Lexington-Fayette NAACP says the current superintendent search plan does not prioritize the need for the community to interact with candidates prior to the final selection decision by the school board.
The group calls for a week extension on the meetings so that the candidates can be met in person over two weeks instead of one week, which includes a national holiday weekend.
"We petition the school board to schedule in-person meetings with the candidates and key community stakeholders including parents, school staff, students, and community leaders," said Mudler. "This step would demonstrate that the board wants diverse community input. Such reframing of the interview process would communicate that the school board respects community input and wants the next superintendent to collaboratively work with the school board and the entire community."
For more information on the superintendent search, click here.