Less than a month after at the conclusion of this academic year, the Board of Education is preparing to appoint his successor at tonight’s regular board meeting.
Current Schools and Human Resources Director Dennis McDavid — — has been employed by the since 2005 when he was hired as an English teacher.
His career trajectory has been on the ascent ever since. McDavid became principal of Berkley High School in 2007 before being hired to his current leadership position in 2009.
The decision to toss his hat in the ring for the top job came at the suggestion of both the school board and the current superintendent — McDavid's boss — who he will likely succeed.
Overseeing the superintendent hiring process is Board of Education President Paul Ellison, who said the decision to ask McDavid to interview was vetted well in advance of the hiring process. This is Ellison's second time being involved with a search for a school superintendent, but his first as president. The first time: Five years earlier when Simeck was hired.
Describing the decision to exclusively look internally for Simeck's replacement, Ellison explained how countless school board officials from Michigan and surrounding states who he met had groused about their selection processes.
“They talked about how grueling the process had been and how the available talent pool was not as favorable as they would have liked,” he said. “The overwhelming opinion was that if you have a strong candidate or two, look internally.”
Asked whether any other internal candidates had been approached, Ellison declined to comment but did acknowledge an undercurrent of grumbling by some in the community that Mary Beth Fitzpatrick, the district's director of curriculum, had somehow been dissuaded from applying was incorrect.
“[Fitzpatrick] was one of the administration officials who said that if there was an external candidate search then she would be interested in applying for the job, but if the candidate was solely internal then she would be comfortable with Dennis for the job,” Ellison explained.
To exemplify that point, the board president mentioned that the impetus for scheduling so late in the evening was actually based on Fitzpatrick’s request to accommodate parents attending a previously scheduled Parent-Teacher Association meeting earlier that evening. Fitzpatrick had presented at that meeting.
“She wanted to be there personally to express her support for Dennis,” Ellison said. Fitzpatrick was unavailable for comment.
Procedurally, tonight's school board meeting will consist of typical agenda items, one of which will be the up-or-down vote to extend an offer to McDavid. Opportunity for public comment is scheduled for before and after the vote.
Ellison said details of a contract have been left to a board subcommittee charged with structuring the deal, but have not yet been finalized. Those particulars include compensation and length of employment.
“It’s too soon to say, but it’s unlikely it would just be for one year,” he said of a contract length, acknowledging he was “just reading tea leaves.”