SOUTH BEND — A 9:30 a.m. executive session of South Bend’s school board set for Friday was initially to consider the hiring of either Carole Schmidt or Robert Haworth as the school corporation’s next superintendent.
But an e-mail sent to board members, along with the media, late this morning by Roger Parent, the board president, says the agenda will also include reviewing the applications of all 17 remaining candidates, including Eric King.
Last week, Parent asked a recruiter with McPherson & Jacobson, the board’s superintendent search firm, to request that King withdraw his name from consideration.
King had previously been named among a group of three finalists, who included Carole Schmidt, the school corporation’s interim superintendent, and Robert Haworth, an assistant superintendent in Valparaiso schools.
On the day the names of the finalists were released, reporters brought to light that King left Muncie schools in the midst of controversy over a student’s rape in a high school bathroom that hadn’t been reported to police.
Muncie schools, along with King, was subsequently named in a civil suit by the girl’s family. And, the accused student has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison.
This week, board members Dawn Jones and Stephanie Spivey complained to The Tribune that Parent took it upon himself to ask that King, who was the only minority finalist, withdraw from the candidate pool.
Despite the issues in Muncie, they said, they would have liked to have had the opportunity to interview him.
Meanwhile, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of St. Joseph County, along with several community leaders and members, has announced it will be staging a press conference at 10 a.m. Friday in front of the schools’ administrative offices downtown.
The Rev. Cory Gathright Sr., president of the alliance, said the group will release a statement indicating, among other things, it wants to ensure that all 19 applicants are considered thoroughly, including "their credentials and their flaws."
He also said a focus group comprised of the religious community was excluded from interviewing Schmidt and Haworth.
Parent said there was a plethora of people who volunteered to be involved in the candidate interview process and any groups that were not given that opportunity were given the option of being folded into another group.
As for Friday morning’s executive session, Parent said this afternoon that if four or more board members indicate they’re interested in interviewing additional candidates, the board will do so. Otherwise, it’ll press forward with the consideration of Schmidt and Haworth.
Staff writer Kim Kilbride: