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Duval School Board To Choose Superintendent Search Firm More Carefully

Lindsey Kilbride
Board Chair Paula Wright and board member Warren Jones met to talk about the next step in choosing a search firm.

The Duval County School Board is in the process of hiring a permanent superintendent, which board members say they’d like to see selected before this summer.

Last week, Board Chair Paula Wright and board member Warren Jones met to talk about the next step in choosing a search firm. The two have been tasked with drafting a request for proposal. The search firms will then submit proposals that specify how they would approach the search.

Wright said when the board hired former Superintendent Nikolai Vitti in 2012, it relied solely on information the firms included in their answers to Duval’s RFP — responses she described as "cookie-cutter."

“One of the things I think could help is if we had a built-in process where we do interview the top two or three (search firm) candidates that the board selects,” she said. “I think that’s critical.”

She said she also wants board members to call other districts that have used the firms responding to Duval’s RFP and see how it worked out for them. Board Member Becki Couch said at a workshop earlier this month, that’s something she wished she would have done during the board’s 2012 superintendent search.

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund nonprofit recently compiled and analyzed data for the board detailing past superintendent searches in the 30 largest school districts. It found 15 of them hired search firms with the majority going with Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates; McPherson & Jacobson LLC and Ray & Associates.

The board used McPherson & Jacobson for the selection of Vitti.

Patricia Willis has been Duval’s interim superintendent since May when Vitti left Duval to take a job leading the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

Next month the district is holding four community conversations to find out what qualities the public wants in a new school superintendent.

  • Monday, Nov 6. 6p.m., Terry Parker High School
  • Wednesday, Nov. 8, 6 p.m., Edward White High School
  • Monday, Nov. 13, 6 p.m., Atlantic Coast High School
  • Thursday, Nov. 16, 6 p.m., William Raines High School

Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.