Berkeley Unified hires consultant to continue superintendent search

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The Berkeley Unified School District hired a new consulting firm to continue its extensive search for a permanent superintendent.

Following the controversy surrounding one of the finalists selected in its previous search, the school board will actively engage with the community by holding multiple meetings for concerned residents to speak with Ray and Associates Inc., a national consulting firm that specializes in school executive searches.

The controversy emerged last September, when Edmond Heatley was named the sole finalist for the superintendent position and had tendered his resignation from his three-year post as district superintendent and chief executive officer of the Clayton County Public Schools near Atlanta.

However, contention arose as dozens of students, teachers and community members expressed disapproval for his alleged top-down managerial style and his support of California’s Proposition 8, which restricted gay marriage, referenced in a Sept. 4, 2008, memo from Heatley — then superintendent of the Chino Valley Unified School District. He has since been removed from consideration.

The board had previously hired Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, an executive search firm serving public school districts, in May 2012.

“After going through a certain process twice and (having it) not result in the successful hiring of a superintendent, it made sense to start fresh with a new firm,” said School Board Director Karen Hemphill.

The search for a new superintendent began when Bill Huyett, former district superintendent, announced his retirement in December 2011. After an extensive search, the board appointed Deputy Superintendent Javetta Cleveland and Assistant Superintendent Neil Smith as interim co-superintendents on Aug. 22 until a permanent superintendent could be found.

The board will hold three meetings in late February and early March to provide opportunities for the community to meet with the consulting firm and to enable the community to give input about the hiring process.

“We should make a thorough checking of references and anything that you don’t want to be a surprise,” Hemphill said.

According to a flier from the firm’s website, the superintendent position application must be received by Ray and Associates Inc. by March 15, 2013.

The school board is hoping to conduct final interviews in April, Hemphill said.


Daphne Chen is the lead city government reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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