Board chooses law firm to conduct search for superintendent

The Stanly County Board of Education passed a motion during its Tuesday meeting to hire a law firm to begin a national search for a new superintendent.

The focus of the discussion centered around whether to let an outside group lead the recruiting efforts or to perform the search in-house, which saves money and is what happened when current superintendent Dr. Jeff James was chosen.

The board decided to hire Asheville-based Campbell Shatley, which specializes in educational law, to perform the search for a new superintendent. It will perform the same services offered by the N.C. School Board Association.

James, who has served as the head of Stanly County Schools since 2018, accepted a new position in mid-April to become superintendent at Iredell-Statesville Schools. He will start his new job July 1.

James said the cost for hiring the firm would be anywhere from $10,000 to $21,000 depending on if the board utilizes it for the interview process.

The school system will reach out to the firm and the search should take 30 days, which is the standard timeline for recruiting a new superintendent.

“The situation we’re in right now, we need to get somebody hired as quickly as we possibly can,” Chairman Melvin Poole said.

Board member Glenda Gibson said she wanted teachers, via surveys, to have input in the recruiting process. Though the final decision comes down to the board, she said teachers’ input is “invaluable.”

Gibson also expressed her interest in marketing the position nationwide.

James said during the hiring process at ISS, around 50 questions were asked of relevant stakeholders, including teachers, assessing what they wanted to see in a new superintendent.

“I really think we need to go outside,” to search for James’ replacement, Board member Patty Crump said. “I don’t think we need to do it internally.”

She was concerned that conducting the search in-house would be time-consuming for the central office, especially Vicki Calvert, assistant superintendent of personnel and student services, who already have other important responsibilities.

James told the board that he heard there will be 15 vacant superintendent jobs across the state this summer.

The board unanimously approved the motion to select Campbell Shatley to lead the search for James’ replacement.