Search delayed for school chief Board members want new faces, attitudes

October 29, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers and Andrea F. Siegel | Carol L. Bowers and Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writers

The next Anne Arundel County school superintendent should be a lot like Lee Iacocca, say school board members, who are delaying until December a decision on how and where to begin the search to replace C. Berry Carter II.

"We need somebody who can communicate with people, who can take the vision and sell it to the entire school system and community," said Thomas Twombly, board president. "We need someone who can take the education system where it has never been before. Iacocca is a good example."

Board members are waiting for the results of an in-depth probe into how the school system handled child abuse complaints -- due Nov. 30 -- to begin the search.

"The key thing right now is to get through Nov. 30 and get the seven state mandates complete and get our dignity back," Mr. Twombly said. "Then we can turn our attention to the search for a new superintendent."

After an investigation last summer, Nancy S. Grasmick, state school superintendent, ordered the Anne Arundel system to conduct an independent probe of child abuse complaints and improve a filing system described as "haphazard," among other things.

Mr. Carter, who resigned Tuesday after disputing conclusions of a report that faulted his handling of child abuse cases, was the third consecutive superintendent who failed to complete a four-year term.

While being careful not to criticize Mr. Carter, known for his ability to successfully lobby General Assembly members, school board members agreed they are looking for fresh faces and attitudes among applicants.

Mr. Carter was, in a sense, a product of the school system he served. He had worked there since 1954 and was gradually promoted until he became superintendent in July 1992.

"I'm looking for someone with energy, with management and team-building skills and [who] is open-minded to fresh and new ideas," said board member Carlesa Finney. "I think for years we've accepted things as they are, just sort of plodded along. I want someone who will be out in the community."

Mrs. Finney and some other board members say they consider Acting Superintendent Carol S. Parham, who was appointed July 31 when Mr. Carter was put on leave, to be the front-runner among current employees, but they will conduct a national search. Dr. Parham had been director of the Human Resources department.

"I'm looking for someone who has a doctorate, maybe some experience as a principal or in personnel, some financial experience, and most of all someone who has strong leadership capabilities," said Joseph Foster, another school board member. has to be someone who can motivate people. I think Carol Parham's done an excellent job, more than keep up the status quo. But I don't think anyone, even Carol Parham, is a shoe-in at this point.

"I think our search will be nationwide," Mr. Foster said. "We're the 47th largest school system in the country, it's possible we can attract one of the top superintendents in the country, but then we need to be willing to spend a few extra dollars."

State law sets a minimum salary of $14,000 per year; Anne Arundel County schools paid Mr. Carter $95,000 last year, but did not award him a $5,000 end-of-year merit bonus.

The investigations that led to Mr. Carter's resignation came in the aftermath of the arrest in April of a Northeast High School teacher accused of child sex abuse. The teacher, Ronald W. Price, was convicted for having sex with three students over several years and sentenced this month to 26 years in prison. The state moved this month to have his teaching certificate revoked -- the first time an Anne Arundel County teacher's license will have been pulled.

CARTER'S REBUTTAL

By dialing Sunfax at (410) 332-6123 and entering the code 5060, readers can receive, by fax, a free copy of the rebuttal by school Superintendent C. Berry Carter II to the report by the special counsel to the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. The 47-page document will take approximately 23 minutes to transmit.

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