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Engaging the community will be a key part of Minneapolis’ new superintendent search

A couple of key changes have been designed to ensure that the expedited search process is less dependent on an outside search firm.

Board members Nelson Inz, Tracine Asberry and Don Samuels discuss details of the new superintendent search process.
MinnPost photo by Erin Hinrichs

At yesterday evening’s special board meeting, the Minneapolis Public Schools board finalized the process for its second go at appointing a new permanent superintendent.

In the wake of a yearlong failed search — which quickly dissolved after the board rejected its top candidate Sergio Paez, and the runner-up, Interim Superintendent Michael Goar, unexpectedly withdrew his name from the candidate pool — the board is eager to rebuild trust with the community and avoid any further delays in the hiring process. 

A couple of key changes have been designed to ensure that the expedited search process is less dependent on an outside search firm. This time the board will be taking on some added responsibilities and will be asking the community to do the same.

Board Chair Jenny Arneson and Vice Chair Kim Ellison drafted a step-by-step outline of the new search process, based on feedback received at the Jan. 26 board meeting. While the board voted to amend a few components, the breakdown of contributing parties and the May deadline garnered full support.

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In terms of delegating certain tasks to outside parties — both to avoid putting MPS staff in an awkward position with internal candidates and to keep the workload manageable for part-time board members — the board will hire an executive search firm and a community engagement facilitator.

The selected search firm will have a limited scope of responsibilities, including the management of candidate applications, ensuring applications are complete, forwarding them to the board committee, and doing some initial reference checks.

This time, the recruitment of candidates will be kept in-house. All nine board members agreed to leverage their professional networks to reach untapped talent, and the board will use voluntary services provided by the Council of the Great City Schools to advertise the position as well. 

Also, a nine-member search committee — made up of five community members, three board members, and the board’s student representative — will be tasked with vetting all applicants and narrowing the pool down to no more than three finalists.

Board member Josh Reimnitz, Student Representative Shaadia Munye
MinnPost photo by Erin Hinrichs
Board member Josh Reimnitz explains a part of the discussion to the board’s new student representative, Shaadia Munye, who will serve on the new search committee.

In the first search, this step had been managed by HYA, a national firm. And a total of six finalists were announced. In order to make the process more inviting to candidates who may have been deterred by this during the initial search, the board has limited the number of names that will be made public to just the three finalists.

A community engagement facilitator, another notable addition to the search process, will organize opportunities for community feedback at designed stages along the way.

At the next committee of the whole meeting Feb. 23, board members will further discuss a clear timeline for the new search process, as well as a strategy for selecting community members to serve on the search committee.