LORAIN — Lorain school board member Tony Dimacchia made it clear Monday night at a joint board and Academic Distress Commission meeting he wasn’t happy with the search for a district CEO so far.
Dimacchia said he felt the process lacked transparency and he was disappointed in the selection of the five finalists, which didn’t include current Superintendent Jeff Graham, so on Tuesday he threw out an alternative idea — Mayor Chase Ritenauer.
“I’ve shared my dissatisfaction with the board and the commission and it’s nothing against the finalists that were selected, but I was thinking what a good fit Ritenauer would be,” he said. “He’s competent and capable with political experience and knowledge of House Bill 70.”
The Lorain district is seeking a CEO after failing test scores and poor state report card grades caused it to be classified by the state as under academic distress in 2013.
State House Bill 70, passed in 2015, states that if a district is in academic distress and under the supervision of an academic distress commission for four years, the old commission will be disbanded and a new one will be appointed to hire a CEO to lead the district.
Ritenauer is required to be familiar with the legislation because it granted him one appointment on the new Academic Distress Commission, John Monteleone, and it also has ramifications for his position in the future.
According to House Bill 70, if the district continues to stay in distress, even after a CEO is selected, the mayor is responsible for selecting a new school board.
“I think it’s worthy of a conversation,” Dimacchia said. “Chase understands the business side of things as well as the financial. It’s nothing against the current finalists. I just wonder if we should consider someone local before the commission selects someone on Friday. We want to make sure due diligence is being done, and I don’t know how easy that is when they just started interviews (Tuesday).”
The five-member commission released its list of finalists, who were selected by search firm Atlantic Research Partners, on Sunday. The five finalists are:
- Vilicia Cade, senior director of secondary curriculum and professional development for Christina Schools in Wilmington, Del.;
- David Hardy, deputy superintendent of academics for St. Louis Schools in St. Louis;
- James Henderson, former associate superintendent for academic support for St. Louis Schools in St. Louis;
- Lloyd Martin, former superintendent of schools Academy for Urban Scholars in Columbus;
- Thomas, chief support officer for University of Virginia Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education in Charlottesville, Va.
Dimacchia noted he hadn’t approached Ritenauer with the idea yet, but the latter said he would be willing to help the schools in whatever way he could.
“I wasn’t approached, and I didn’t apply for the position,” Ritenauer said. “And I’m open to helping the schools in anyway I can. I think the emotion rooted in this for members of the community is that none of the finalists are local, but I made my position on this very clear.”
In February, Ritenauer announced his pick for a CEO would have been Graham, who is getting ready to start the final year of a three-year contract, and has stayed steadfast on that path since then.
“I thought Dr. Graham would at least get a full interview,” Ritenauer said. “I feel like there’s a lot he’s accomplished for the district in the two years that he’s been here and he didn’t even get an interview.”
Ritenauer did note that the resumes for the five finalists were impressive, but at the end of the day it’s about what’s best for children in the community.
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