NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The months-long process of finding a new Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools could be one step closer to being over, as board members announced current Williamson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney as their top candidate.
“The things that really struck me about Dr. Looney was just the depth of his experience and his knowledge,” board member Elissa Kim said. “How research oriented he was.”
Thursday morning, board members reviewed feedback from all the finalist interviews and selected Dr. Looney as their top pick in an 8-1 vote. However, this was not the final vote -- that won't happen until next week.
This past fall, Dr. Jesse Register announced that he would not be returning as Director of Schools. His last day was in June.
Dr. Mike Looney is a familiar face to many in the area since he is currently the Director of Williamson County Schools. He previously worked in school districts in Alabama for 15 years, where he was a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent.
“If I get this job, I have a singular focus,” said Dr. Looney. “That is to improve student outcome for boys and girls who call this school district home.”
Before taking a vote board member Tyese Hunter raised concerns about an anonymous e-mail the board received alleging misconduct in Looney's handling of an investigation of an employee who was ultimately convicted of being a peeping tom. Looney denies any wrongdoing.
The board took a short recess around 10 a.m. to call and notify him of their decision. Looney was offered and accepted the job pending outcome of a successful background check, site visit and contract negotiations.
Through a statement he said, “I am honored to learn that Metro Nashville Public Schools has narrowed its search for the Director of Schools, and I am a finalist. Unfortunately, in the last hour of the meeting, a false allegation complicated matters by calling into question my integrity. I communicated to Board Chairwoman Gentry that my first priority is to set the record straight. I look forward to this being done in an expeditious manner. Meanwhile, I intend to converse with Williamson County School Board members about the implications of my selection as a finalist.”
The board had nothing but praise for the two other candidates, Dr. Barry Shepherd and Dr. Angela Huff. Both were applauded for their accomplishments during their careers and were applauded for how they handled the intense interview process.
On Monday, board members will visit Williamson County Schools. Wednesday the board will discuss the findings of the background check and site visit. They hope to vote on the selection at the board meeting scheduled for July 23.