Push to make Hook state school superintendent denied for now; search continues

The State Board of Education will continue to look for a new state superintendent of public instruction, after voting down a motion Tuesday to immediately consider Springboro schools superintendent Larry Hook for the job.

At the state board meeting, a motion was introduced to move forward with an emergency consideration to appoint Hook as the next state superintendent. The vote was 10-7 against the motion.

The members voting to move forward argued the state has taken almost a year to find a replacement for former state superintendent Paolo DeMaria, who resigned last September. The board approved Steve Dackin as the superintendent of public instruction in a 14-4 vote on May 10, but Dackin, an ex-member of the state Board of Education, abruptly resigned at the beginning of June.

The board approved Stephanie Siddens as interim state superintendent on Monday. She has been the interim state superintendent since DeMaria retired. Siddens did not apply for the top job but had been approved as Dackin’s deputy.

Charlotte McGuire, the Board of Education president, said in an interview last week the board’s next step will either be to move forward with either a new round of applicants or ask Siddens to apply for the job. The board anticipates discussing their next steps at the July meeting.

Hook had been one of the finalists for the state superintendent post before Dacking was selected. State board members touted Hook’s qualifications to be the next state superintendent, and some said it was also important to move forward more quickly.

“By our next meeting, we will be at or beyond the middle of summer,” said Walt Davis, an at-large state board member from Lebanon. “School starts shortly after that. It’s not fair to the people of Ohio, who are waiting to hear about this leadership that we’re supposed to be selecting, for us to just be casual about it and take our time just because it might feel better to some of us.”

Dackin had initially led the state board’s search for the next superintendent, before resigning and applying for the job himself. That created some controversy, which Dackin alluded to in his resignation letter, dated June 3.

“Concerns have been raised about my recent acceptance of the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction,” Dackin wrote. “I don’t want ‘revolving door’ questions to distract from the important work ahead for schools, educators, and especially children.”

A letter from the Ohio Ethics Commission, dated May 2, says the Commission was considering opening an investigation into Dackin’s role in the selection process for the state superintendent position before applying for it himself.

It’s not clear if an investigation was ever opened. Paul M. Nick, executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission, said the Commission cannot confirm if an investigation is pending.

McGuire said in a statement Tuesday that the Board of Education complied with the request for documents needed for a possible investigation.

“At that time, the State Board determined that Mr. Dackin’s leadership, experience, vision for the future and commitment to student success were important to keeping with the State Board’s priorities to support Ohio’s students, families and school communities,” McGuire said of the vote on May 10. “The State Board of Education and Ohio Department of Education remain committed to supporting a transparent process with integrity.”

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