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School chief search hedges on residency

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education met earlier this week in a special called session to discuss the next steps in the process of hiring a school superintendent.

As the school board went over the details of the application and advertising plans for seeking a new superintendent, one of the main items up for discussion was the terminology that would be used to convey the desire of several members of the school board for the next superintendent to not only “live” in the school district to meet the minimum requirements of state law, but also to dwell in the community as a part of its fabric.

Superintendent Shelton Jefferies, who recently resigned, rented a residence in Nash County. However, an investigation by the Rocky Mount Telegram revealed that not only did his wife and children still live and attend school near Charlotte, but Jefferies also had bought a home in Huntersville valued at more than $620,000 roughly two years after being hired by Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools.

The original statement announcing the superintendent search first read, “A successful candidate will be required by law to live in Nash County.”

Technically, state law requires that the superintendent could live anywhere within Nash or Edgecombe counties, school board attorney Rod Malone said. However, school board members wanted to clarify that the superintendent needed to live within the school district. Malone said that could be a requirement of the school district.

School board member Dean Edwards took issue with the word “live.”

“I fear that word, ‘live,’” Edwards said. “I want them domiciled here and I want that residency thing worked out.”

The wording of the announcement was changed to read, “A successful candidate will be required to reside in the school district.”

Malone said the school board could discuss the exact expectations and wording as part of the contract discussions.

“We want to make this issue perfectly clear on the contract,” school board Chairman Franklin Lamm said.

The board also voted to invite the public into the process of deciding what the school board should look for in the next superintendent.

According to a press release sent out by the school district on Friday, “The board is seeking direct input from interested parents, other members of the community and staff to help shape the search process and to assist in defining the qualities and characteristics desired in the next superintendent.”

As part of this process, the school board has opened an online community survey and is inviting parents and other members of the community to respond. The survey can be accessed by clicking the superintendent search survey link on the main Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools webpage at https://www.nrms.k12.nc.us. All surveys must be completed by Sept. 25. Results will be compiled and presented at the regularly scheduled board meeting on Oct. 7, the press release said.

Employees of the school district will have an opportunity to complete a separate online staff survey.

Students, parents, other members of the community and staff also will be invited to attend two upcoming community forums about the issue. The community forums will further allow the board to hear directly from stakeholders about the qualities and characteristics desired in the next school superintendent, the release said. Details regarding these forums will be announced.

In addition, local groups and organizations may submit written statements regarding the leadership qualities that they consider important in the next superintendent, the release said. These statements should be submitted to Allison Schafer via mail at NCSBA, P.O. Box 97877, Raleigh, NC 27624, by e-mail to aschafer@ncsba.org or faxed to 919-841-4020. These statements need to be received no later than Sept. 25.

Community stakeholders also can sign up to speak on the issue during the public comment portion of school board meetings scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sept. 5 and Oct. 7. These meetings will be held in the auditorium of the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools central office at 930 Eastern Ave. in Nashville. All individuals and groups must sign up to speak before the meeting begins and must otherwise comply with applicable board policy, the release said.

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