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superintendent search
Montclair hopes to interview the two finalists for the superintendent position this month. 
PHOTO BY ERIN ROLL

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

This month, Montclair school officials hope to be interviewing the person who will become the district’s next superintendent. The names of the finalists, however will not be released to public as was done during past superintendent searches.

The Board of Education has selected two finalists out of the 50 candidates who completed an application. Seventy people in all applied, said board of education members.

The New Jersey School Board Association, who was retained by the district to aid with the search, identified 14 candidates and referred their names and information to the BOE.

The meetings with the candidates have been conducted as virtual meetings.

The district hopes to have the new superintendent in place by July 1. In order for that to meet that deadline, contract negotiations and many other steps need to be completed by May 1, said BOE President Eve Robinson.

“Assuming the board identifies one finalist to move forward, the board will conduct reference and background checks, may schedule a visit to the finalist’s home district, will have the finalist spend a day in Montclair, begin contract negotiations, have the contract reviewed and approved by Essex County Executive County Superintendent, and lastly appoint the person,” Robinson said.

The May 1 deadline is also necessary so the finalist can give a 60-day notice to their present employers, she added.

This search is markedly different from the last search for a superintendent in the 2017-2018 school year when Kendra Johnson was named as superintendent. For that search, the district held a public forum with the three finalist candidates.

This time, the BOE will not release the two candidates’ names due to confidentiality reasons, Robinson said.

All of the interviews with the candidates have been done in executive sessions. “Confidentiality of candidate information has become increasingly important to the integrity of a superintendent search and the ability to attract the most highly qualified candidates,” Robinson said.

During the last search, two of the three candidates ended up withdrawing for reasons that were not made clear to the public.

Johnson resigned in May 2019 to take a new job in Maryland.

Nathan Parker was named as interim superintendent in August.

That year, Mayor Robert Jackson said during a press conference that he believed that the superintendent job should be offered to someone who had prior experience as a superintendent. Only one of the candidates had that level of experience. Johnson did not hold a superintendent position prior to being hired by Montcalir.

The BOE detailed the next steps of the superintendent search in an email sent to the public this week. In the statement, the BOE also thanked Parker for his work with the district during the time of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are committed to striving for excellence in our school district and to that end have also committed ourselves to our most important job: the hiring of a permanent superintendent to lead our district. We hear and support the public sentiment that we need stable leadership and have taken seriously our task to do this through a Superintendent search,” the letter read.

The new superintendent will be introduced to the public once the salary negotiations and background checks have been completed. The introduction may be done virtually, depending on the COVID-19 situation, said Robinson.

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