It was a short-and-sweet open session when the Fort Worth School board met this morning just outside a bank of elevators at a private downtown building. They soon headed up to a ninth-floor conference room where they planned to interview six candidates for the superintendent post today and tomorrow. One of them is interim superintendent Walter Dansby.
The search process -- like many in Texas -- has been rather secretive despite officials publicly saying that they wanted to be as transparent as possible. Trustees did have a public meeting to get input on the next superintendent, but search firm consultants also met with key city and community stakeholders in closed-door meetings.
Trustees were split when a reporter (uh, me) tried to stand outside the ninth-floor business offices where the interviews were being held. Trustee Ann Sutherland said the reporter couldn't be on the floor because she would learn who the candidates are. Vice President Juan Rangel and trustees Carlos Vasquez had said she could stay.
But a few minutes later, a security officer escorted her off the floor saying the tenants did not want the newspaper reporter on that floor. The downtown building has multiple entrances and access to floors through an attached parking garage. The school board complex where trustees generally meet has fewer entrances and is on a single floor.
Before the meeting Rangel said confidentiality is a must in a superintendent search with only a lone finalist generally named.
"That's been this board's procedure since I've been on the board because many applicants tend to be sitting superintendents who have a job, and we want to make sure we get the best candidates," Rangel said.
Recently other major urban districts have released more than one finalist to the public -- including Cleveland, Milwaukee and the Louisville area. This week officials at the East Baton Rouge Parrish released the names of 43 applicants vying for that superintendent job. (Interesting side note, applicants include Dallas ISD board president/Texas CAN! Academies administrator Lew Blackburn, who attended Fort Worth schools in the Kirkpatrick area for a bit when he was younger.)