Former state school chief on list for Baltimore post

May 30, 1991|By Gelareh Asayesh

David W. Hornbeck, Maryland's former state school superintendent, has become a candidate for Baltimore school superintendent after being asked by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to apply, Mr. Hornbeck confirmed yesterday.

Mr. Hornbeck, who was the state's top education official for 12 years, is now an educational consultant to states and cities around the country on issues of school reform. He said he spoke with both Mr. Schmoke and school board President Joseph L. Smith last week and agreed to talk further with the school board.

The board is searching for a replacement for Superintendent Richard C. Hunter. Dr. Hunter's three-year term expires July 31.

"[Mr. Schmoke] called me last week and asked me if I would be willing to talk to the school board, and I told him that I would," said Mr. Hornbeck. "I've had a long, deep, abiding affection for the city and given my belief that what we do in our cities is the most important thing in education, when the mayor called and said he thought it would be useful for me to have conversations with the board, I said yes."

Mr. Hornbeck, a native of Knoxville, Tenn., has lived in Baltimore for 14 years. His two sons are graduates of city schools. The 49-year-old attorney was a well-regarded state superintendent from 1976 to 1988 and is also the architect of Kentucky's comprehensive school reform legislation, adopted last year.

The former state superintendent is the first new candidate for the superintendency to emerge since Mr. Schmoke said earlier this month that he wanted board members to broaden the pool of contenders from an announced short list of five and to take their time looking for a new schools chief. The mayor said he also wanted the board to reconsider candidates from within the city school system who had already been screened out.

Mr. Schmoke's announcement caught board members off guard. The board had just set a revised deadline of May 27 to conclude its search, which began in January. The status of the search has been unclear for most of this month, as board members waited to hear specific names from the mayor.

But the communication gap between City Hall and the school board appeared to be closing this week amid signs that the search is once again picking up steam. Mr. Schmoke spoke over the weekend with board members, who will be revisiting candidates from within the school system as well as adding new names to their pool -- including Mr. Hornbeck, said Clinton R. Coleman, Mr. Schmoke's spokesman.

Board members met privately Tuesday evening, when Mr. Smith announced that board Vice President Stelios Spiliadis will now head the search. Mr. Spiliadis replaces Doris M. Johnson, who is leaving the board to assume a position on the Baltimore board of election supervisors.

Mr. Spiliadis said yesterday that he hoped to call board members together early next week to work on developing a list of candidates who can be interviewed by the whole board -- a list that would include any new names that surface as well as names of candidates previously ruled out.

He said he would also ask board members to review information from interviews with the five candidates on the short list and to consider visits to the candidates' home districts, to decide whom to keep and whom to reject. The board finished interviewing the five early last week.

The five are Walter G. Amprey, an associate superintendent in Baltimore County; Leonard M. Britton, former superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District; Jerome Clark, an associate superintendent in Prince George's County; Lillian Gonzalez, an assistant superintendent in the District of Columbia schools; and Alfred Tutela, former head of Cleveland schools.

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