The board of education in Frederick County, Maryland, is set to approve a contract with a national search firm Wednesday to help the school system find a new superintendent.
The previous superintendent left late last year following a federal investigation into the system’s “pervasive misuse” of seclusion and restraint practices.
The proposed contract, which was posted online ahead of the Wednesday afternoon board meeting, is with Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, a well-known education search firm, that was also retained by neighboring Montgomery County to assist with a superintendent search.
The Frederick County contract will cost the district $35,000 plus and other expenses. If the school system picks a candidate recruited by the firm, the school system will also pay HYA 10% of the new superintendent’s base salary, per the terms of the contract.
The new superintendent will oversee a school system of more than 45,000 students and 6,200 employees and an annual operating budget of more than $637 million.
The school system’s former longtime superintendent, Terry Alban, left her post late last year following the announcement of a settlement with federal authorities over the school system’s seclusion and restraint practices.
The U.S. Justice Department said the school system “unnecessarily and repeatedly” secluded and restrained young students in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The federal investigation, which began in October 2020, examined the school system’s practices over the previous two years and found thousands of incidents of seclusion and restraint, some involving children as young as five, and virtually all involving students with disabilities.
The school board appointed deputy superintendent Mike Markoe to serve as interim superintendent until at least June 2022.
Under the terms of the proposed contract, the HYA search firm will conduct a community-engagement survey and hold virtual focus groups with staff, parents and community members to prepare a report on the desired characteristics of a new superintendent.
The search firm will also coordinate and place job advertisements and interview and conduct reference checks.
A timeline laid out in the proposed contract says the search firm will present an initial report on Feb. 23, conduct interviews by March and announce the appointment by April 1. The new superintendent’s term would begin July 1, under the terms of the contract.
However, school board president Brad Young told the Frederick News-Post the timeline laid out in the proposed contract was only tentative and the school board would not likely meet it.
HYA is the same firm hired by the school board in Montgomery County to lead a national search for a new superintendent of that school system, which is Maryland’s largest.
On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Board of Education announced it would stick with interim superintendent Monifa McKnight for the permanent position, who was among four finalists for the position.
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