Seems like a simple question. And, until last night, it had a simple answer. Dr. Jesse Register’s last day was to be June 30th. The interim role would then be handed to the district’s #2, Jay Steele, currently the Chief Academic Officer. Steele would run the district for one to three months until a permanent Director of Schools was hired and in place.
But, it’s not that simple. Steele was appointed to the interim role on a 5-4 vote. That vote drew criticism from, among others, TN Ed Report’s own Zack Barnes.
Steven Hale over at the Nashville Scene has a good run down of what happened.
And now, the Board has appointed Chris Henson as interim director.
The appointment came in an emergency meeting called by Board Chair Sharon Gentry to address issues raised with the vote for Steele, including the open meetings complaint.
At last night’s meeting, Gentry admitted that she was at fault, at least in part, because after the motion to appoint Steele, she proceeded with the vote without calling for discussion.
Gentry also voted against appointing Steele – this would seem to be an indication that no decisions were made in secret, since the person who chose to move forward without discussion was on the losing side of the vote. Perhaps Gentry suspected she had the votes in favor of another candidate and called for the vote on Steele quickly in order to move on to her preferred interim director choice.
Gentry last night also suggested that one remedy for an open meetings violation was a new meeting and vote with a thorough discussion. Of course, as of last night, there was only a complaint, no guidance from the Comptroller regarding any violation.
And, as referenced in the Scene story and noted by J.R. Lind, the meeting was a procedural mess:
The emergency meeting appears to have been a procedural mess, as our J.R. Lind explains on Twitter. For instance, although the board members voted to reconsider their initial appointment of Steele, they never voted to rescind it.)
This marks the second consecutive meeting in which a major decision was mishandled by poor procedural leadership from Gentry.
Back to the original question: Who is running MNPS? As of today, it’s Chris Henson. As for the Board, that’s an open question.
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