School leadership bullets dodged and undodged in Arkansas | Arkansas Blog

School leadership bullets dodged and undodged in Arkansas

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NOT DODGED: Former Superintendent Dexter Suggs came to Little Rock with recommendations from a national search firm that vetted a controversial Kansas principal. Both school leaders had problematic resumes. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • BRIAN CHILSON
  • NOT DODGED: Former Superintendent Dexter Suggs came to Little Rock with recommendations from a national search firm that vetted a controversial Kansas principal. Both school leaders had problematic resumes.

An Arkansas sidenote, courtesy of a website at Pittsburg (Kan.) State University, on the recent national story about a Kansas high school principal whose dubious credentials were exposed by high school newspaper reporters.

The principal in question, Amy Robertson, has resigned. A recitation of her checkered past notes that she was hired by School Superintendent Destry Brown.

Brown is a consultant for the leading national search firm for superintendents and administrators, McPherson & Jacobson, L.L.C. The firm conducts national searches for school boards. Since 1991, the firm has placed over 700 superintendents and other officials in public and non-profit organizations across the United States.

Robertson was listed as a candidate for superintendent in three districts in Arkansas in the past year: Pine Bluff, Guy-Perkins, and Harrison, all of which hired McPherson & Jacobson to conduct a search for their open superintendent positions.

Despite the assertion in the company’s literature that they check all candidates references and credentials, Dr. Thomas Jacobson, CEO of McPherson & Jacobson says his company relies on states to conduct the vetting process of candidates and that they are reputable.

“We believe there is integrity in that process and we believe the states do a good job. We take it at face value that if the state has granted the license then they have met the requirements,” Jacobson said.
Yes, McPherson is often on the job in Arkansas. Such as this unfortunate recommendation for a Little Rock superintendent. It also vetted Dexter Suggs for the job of Little Rock school superintendent. He was a disaster, though the state Board of Education, when it abolished the school board, thought so much of Suggs that it kept him on as superintendent. Then Blue Hog Report revealed plagiarism on his doctoral work. He was forced to move on.

A coda to the Suggs episode was state Board member Dianne Zook's rant yesterday about the Little Rock School District. She went into numerous issues that had little to do with the school academic problems that led to the takeover 2015, but listed at length things under administrative control. That would have been the responsibility of Suggs, whom she wanted to keep running things given the vote to remove the board but not the superintendent. Presumably he'd still be in charge but for Blue Hog. She wanted the black-majority school board gone and she got her wish. She seemed yesterday to have little interest in seeing a board return anytime soon.

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