Monday, September 17, 2007
Everitt to Notify Board of Hires
By Andrea Schoellkopf
Journal Staff Writer
After a controversial series of principal reassignments, Superintendent Elizabeth Everitt has decided to inform board members before she hires someone for a school's top job.
Last month, board members complained that they were the last ones to learn about new principal hires and were not told when a principal in their district had left.
Everitt told the board Thursday she would personally let them know before she offered someone a principal job.
"The superintendent is the one who still hires and fires employees," Everitt told the Journal on Thursday.
The hiring process "moves so fast" that board members have been left out of the information process, she said.
But Everitt would not say whether a board member could influence her choice.
"It's my decision," she said.
APS earlier this year reassigned principals at 27 schools, saying the moves were made primarily to help struggling schools. Some parents and schools protested the changes.
A 2003 education reform bill signed into law removed the local school board's powers over hiring and firing, except for the superintendent.
Board president Paula Maes said Everitt is trying to improve communication, citing a complaint from member Berna Facio that the board is "always the last to know."
"I didn't take it as she was trying to get our approval," Maes said. "We have no business doing that."
Maes said while she may express problems with a potential hire, that doesn't mean the person would be rejected.
"We have one employee," she said. "That's the superintendent."
Board member Marty Esquivel said informing the board beforehand could create problems.
"I do think it creates the opportunity for board members to meddle and interfere with her ability to choose a principal," Esquivel said. "... You kind of get into this gray area. She's doing that to make board members happy, or doing it as a matter of courtesy."
However, Esquivel criticized the recent principal changes and said more comment from the community, or even the board, would have helped.
"We didn't have that type of communication with the principal shuffle this summer," he said. "In some cases, we ended up with a fiasco. Maybe this is an attempt to avoid further fiasco."
Tom Sullivan, executive director of the New Mexico Coalition of School Administrators, said districts interpreted the law change differently.
"Some school boards felt it was really curtailing their role and their influence. Others felt like they weren't supposed to be meddling in day-to-day operations anyway," he said.
Many New Mexico superintendents still inform board members of administrative hirings, both "before the fact or after the fact."