The secret Superintendent search

Bad idea.

Houston ISD trustees decided this afternoon that they will release to the public only one name in the superintendent search — the person they intend to hire. The board, at the urging of its search firm, Heidrick & Struggles, said it will not divulge the names of any applicants or any people they interview for the taxpayer-funded job. They intend to name only one finalist.

Search consultant Les Csorba told the board many potential candidates have asked about confidentiality and are worried about their names being let out of the bag. “I think the most outstanding candidates are those actively involved in a leadership role right now where they have a number of risks associated with their potential candidacy,” Csorba told trustees. “Anything this board can do to reassure and reaffirm this confidentiality of the process would go a long way.”

I didn’t like this before, and I don’t like it now. If this is the norm for superintendent searches, then I think it’s a bad norm. This is a public position, and it should be filled in a manner that’s open to public scrutiny. Frankly, I’m not sure I buy Lee Csorba’s assertion about the need for confidentiality. If this is such a great opportunity that everyone knows about as he claims, then it’ll still be so if the candidates’ names are disclosed as part of the process. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what these candidates’ current colleagues think about them now, instead of after he or she gets hired? Besides, as Stace points out, what are the odds this will stay a secret all the way through? Do it in the open and save yourself the trouble, HISD.

By the way, Superintendent Abe Saavedra’s last day will be August 31, one week after the fall semester starts. It’d be nice to have a replacement in place by then.

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