Questions Raised About MNPS Board Finalists

Posted at 8:27 PM, Jul 07, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Next week the public can formally meet the four candidates hoping to become the next Director of Metro Schools. All come with decades of experience, from the classroom to administration but they'll still have to face some tough questions.

Before becoming an educational consultant, Dr. John Covington held the top job of Michigan's Achievement Authority charged with turning around more than one dozen of Detroit's lowest performing schools.

“He didn't feel it was necessary to say goodbye or answer questions from concerned parents and teachers over things like nearly 200 grand spent on cross country travel for administrators over the past two years,” WXYZ in Detroit reported last June.

“Spending that has continued even as the Authority revealed today a proposed budget that reveals a $26.4 million drop in revenue.”

In his Metro Schools application, Covington cited "the failing health of his mother" as the reason for his departure. His resignation as Superintendent of Kansas City Schools was similarly described as being sudden.

Covington was recruited by the consultants hired by Metro Schools.

“To me it's not sudden. I've been thinking for a year now,” Dr. Barry Shepherd said during an interview with Charlotte’s WBTV in March.

There was far less turmoil surrounding the retirement of the North Carolina Superintendent. For more than seven years Dr. Shepherd lead Cabbarrus County schools, a much smaller district with only 31,000 students.

“I hope they remember that we came through this dark recession and our students are performing better on the other end,” Dr. Shepherd said.

Metro Schools graduate Dr. Angela Huff calls herself both an internal and external candidate in her application.

She said returning as the leader of the district is her dream. She currently serves as Chief of Staff to Cobb County's Superintendent.

Huff made the news after a whistle blower called into questioned her using the assistance of a teacher during school time to help with her dissertation. The district did not conduct an investigation.

Dr. Mike Looney is at the helm of the highest performing district in Tennessee but tensions with the current school board have been well documented. Coming to Metro Schools would test if his leadership in Williamson County can apply to a much different student population in Metro Schools.

Board Chair Sharon Gentry said the process isn't about finding someone with experiences that completely mirror the dynamics of Metro Schools . It is about the person with the qualities that can move the district forward.

Board interviews are later this week and public forums are scheduled for next week.