Jeffrey Bourne, the chairman of the City of Richmond School Board, confirmed that with the support of a majority of their colleagues, he and vice-chairman Donald Coleman [7th District] sent a letter today to the Virginia State Superintendent of Instruction formally requesting that the Richmond School Board be granted an extension of the 180-day deadline for appointing a superintendent for Richmond Public Schools. Bourne and Coleman signed the letter on behalf of the nine-member board.
Wright told Bourne that he and his colleagues needed to submit a formal request. She gave no indication, he said, concerning the possibility that the request would be granted.
Bourne said that when he spoke by telephone with State Supt. Patricia Wright last night from Denver, Colorado, he explained the extension is necessary in order for the School Board to fulfill promises made to Richmond citizens that the public would have the opportunity to meet and ask questions of the final three candidates for the position.
"We are all committed to bringing greater transparency to the process, but with facing a December 27th deadline, we are all concerned that the holidays might make it difficult for many citizens to be able to attend such a community forum," he said. Nonetheless, Bourne said that he and the board have scheduled a public meeting to be held December 18th at Albert Hill Middle School at 6 p.m. should the request be denied.
In response to an inquiry concerning whether the State Board of Education has ever granted an extension, Charles Pyle, spokesman for Virginia Department of Education, provided the following:
"The minutes (final page) of the Board of Education’s February 2006 business meeting record the board’s action in appointing a superintendent for Charlottesville Public Schools.
Page 24-25 of the minutes cover a related discussion about formalizing the process for appointing a division superintendent.
At the next meeting, the board approved a process for carrying out its statutory responsibility to appoint a local superintendent when a local school board fails to meet the 180-day deadline.
According to this information, it appears that there is only one condition that could possibly trigger an extension. See below [Yellow highlights and BF are mine] :
"In the event that a school board fails to appoint a division superintendent within the time prescribed by Sections 22.1-60 and 22-1-61 of the Code of Virginia, the Virginia Board of Education shall appoint the division superintendent. The proposed procedures for the appointment of such division superintendent by the Virginia Board of Education shall be as follows:
- An individual appointed as a division superintendent must hold a valid division superintendent license issued by the Virginia Board of Education prior to the appointment.
- The Virginia Board of Education shall appoint the division superintendent if the school board has not appointed the division superintendent within 180 (calendar) days after a vacancy occurs. However, in the event a school board appoints a division superintendent in accordance with the provisions of Section 22.1-60 of the Code of Virginia and the appointee seeks and is granted release from such appointment prior to assuming office, the school board shall be granted a 60-day period (calendar days) from the time of release within which to make another appointment.
- A school board that has not appointed a superintendent within 120 (calendar) days of a vacancy shall submit a written report, containing at least a status report with a timeline for making the appointment prior to 180 (calendar) days, to the Superintendent of Public Instruction demonstrating timely efforts to make an appointment. [Click here and here to read these documents].
- The school board immediately shall notify the Virginia Board of Education, in writing, of its failure to appoint a division superintendent within the time prescribed by Section 22.1-60 of the Code of Virginia. Within 30 days after the time prescribed by Section 22.1-60 of the Code of Virginia for the local school board to appoint the division superintendent, the school board must submit in writing its preferred candidates, not to exceed three, for the division superintendent position. The Virginia Board of Education may consider these candidates and other eligible individuals. The Virginia Board of Education may authorize the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to conduct the search for a division superintendent.
- The Virginia Board of Education shall appoint a division superintendent, and the contract for the superintendent shall be negotiated by the school board.
- The Board of Education shall appoint the school division superintendent for an initial term of not less than two years or more than four years (contract periods).
Bourne said that he cannot predict whether the extension might be granted. "What is important here is that the members of this board honor our promises to the community. Our board must have the public involvement of all concerned citizens if we are ever going to make our schools become what our children need and what we as a community truly deserve."