State school board has long debate, slow movement on superintendent search

The Ohio Board of Education is once again weighing what to do about hiring a new state superintendent.

The state board voted Tuesday to allow board member Kristen Hill to draft a motion asking for a search firm to find the next superintendent, and present the motion at the board meeting in September for a vote.

That motion came only after several hours of debate between members about what the board would do about the next state superintendent.

The Ohio Board of Education has struggled to find their next state superintendent after former state superintendent Paolo DeMaria resigned last September. The board pushed back the deadline for candidates to apply for the role from December to March.

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From the candidates who applied for the job, 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 Ohio Board of Education, abruptly resigned at the beginning of June.

Board member John Hagan this week called Dackin’s appointment a “Scaramucci type,” referencing former president Donald Trump’s communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who lasted 10 days in that position in 2017. Dackin lasted a little more than a week and it’s not clear why he resigned. In his resignation letter, he referenced “revolving door” concerns, shortly after leaving the state board to become superintendent.

Stephanie Siddens is the current interim state superintendent of public instruction and has been basically since DeMaria left. She did not apply for the permanent role.

“We had at one point, the superintendent and an assistant superintendent,” Hagan said. “The interim would seem more like limbo to me, and you can talk about moving forward, but I think you only move forward with certainty and leadership.”

In the middle of June, several members of the Ohio Board of Education nominated former Springboro superintendent Larry Hook for the state position. Hook was one of the final three candidates the board was considering. But board members declined in a 10-7 vote a motion to consider Hook for the position.

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Hook has since been named superintendent of schools in the Forest Hills district on the east side of Cincinnati. Hagan withdrew a motion to consider Hook again for the state superintendent role on Tuesday.

Charlotte McGuire, the chair of the state school board, said she felt the Ohio Department of Education was in good hands with Siddens for now. But she noted the board will need to make a permanent decision about who to hire as the state superintendent.

“Those of you that know me, I wouldn’t be part of that,” McGuire said, referring to delaying a permanent appointment further. “And it’s our job to work together.”

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