The Washington Post

Search firm provides profile for next Prince George’s County schools chief

Wanted: A superintendent who is collaborative, shows integrity and has a vision the he or she can fulfill.

Oh, this candidate should also be politically savvy; appreciative of a diverse school system and able to address inequity among students who come from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

And, high on the list, this person must commit to making a home in Prince George’s County for several years.

These are the qualities that teachers, parents, students, administrators and community members said they want in the next county schools superintendent, according to the HYA Executive Search firm. HYA officials provided a “leadership profile” to the board Thursday night, a compilation of data gathered from online surveys and stakeholder meetings. Nearly 1,700 people responded to the survey.

“I have never seen the word ‘steppingstone’ used so many times,” said Alan Leis, vice president of HYA. “That phrase kept happening over and over.”

The school system has suffered rapid leadership turnover, causing upheaval from the top down. In the past 10 years, there have been five superintendents. William R. Hite Jr., who once said he planned to stay until he turned gray, left last summer after serving three years in the job.

Leis said he has received responses from applicants interested in the schools chief’s position. He told the board that it should plan to spend a couple of hours in mid-February deciding which questions to ask applicants in the first round of interviews.

By late February or early March, the board will spend a weekend or a couple of days interviewing four to six candidates, he said. The six will be whittled down to three, and by early summer the board should have a new superintendent in place.

“‘This is the most important thing you will ever do’ sounds like a cliche,” Leis told the board. “But this is the most important thing you will ever do.”

Ovetta Wiggins covers Maryland state politics in Annapolis.



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