Hiring practices questioned for Delta 50J superintendent

Delta County School Board members are not following school district or state policy in finding a new superintendent for the district, according to a former member of the board.

Bob Stechert, who served on the board from 2005 to 2009, wrote a letter to Delta’s five school board members Tuesday decrying their conduct at a board meeting last Thursday. Stechert, who did not attend the meeting, said board members announced Superintendent Mike McMillan’s retirement, then said the district was in negotiations with former assistant superintendent Ed Longfield to replace McMillan. School District 50J spokesman John Jones confirmed Stechert’s account of the meeting Wednesday.

Longfield was the only finalist for the job mentioned at the meeting. According to Colorado state statutes, school board members must wait at least 14 days between announcing finalists for a superintendent position and offering a job to any of the finalists.

Stechert said it appears an offer has been made. He said principals in the district shared with him that they received e-mails earlier this week from Longfield saying he’s excited to return to the district. McMillan also said in an interview Tuesday with the Sentinel he believed Longfield already had signed a contract with the district and was waiting for school board members to ratify the contract at their March 18 meeting.

Longfield did not return calls for comment Tuesday or Wednesday, but the Colorado Springs Gazette reported Longfield resigned from his job as Manitou Springs superintendent Tuesday.

The Gazette reported Longfield said he was leaving after a year on the job because he had accepted a job as superintendent of Delta County School District 50J.

Longfield’s last day as head of Manitou Springs schools will be June 30, the day before McMillan retires. Longfield left Delta for Manitou Springs last fall and still owns a home in Hotchkiss, according to McMillan.

Delta School Board policy says board members “shall conduct an active search” when hiring a superintendent. Having one finalist that used to work for the district is not “active,” Stechert said.

“What I’d like to see them do is go back to square one and have an active search,” he said.

Last year, School District 51 hired a former assistant superintendent as its superintendent. District 51 posted the job and conducted an internal search for candidates before hiring Steve Schultz, district spokesman Jeff Kirtland said.

“We followed the legal requirements, both in board policy and in state statute,” Kirtland said.


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