Richmond parents, civic leaders demand input on superintendent - WNEM TV 5

Richmond parents, civic leaders demand input on new school superintendent

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Concerned parents and Richmond activists are slamming the selection process for the new Richmond School Superintendent. A school board member is even claiming back door deals and says it's time to start over.

All eyes are on the calendar and the fast approaching December 27th deadline to appoint a new Richmond Public Schools superintendent.

"I want to know what's going on," said parent Kimberly Johnson-Jones. "I don't want you to shut a door and decide things that are going to impact my children."

Johnson-Jones was on hand at a hastily arranged news conference by the Richmond Coalition for Quality Education. The coalition is questioning why after Dr. Yvonne Brandon's exit there have not been more public forums to vet her replacement.

"But I got news for the board," said Johnson-Jones. "I pushed those babies out. If other parents hadn't made those babies, they wouldn't be where they are now. We need to be included."

There are two messages coming from the board. We spoke with board chairman Jeff Bourne. He says community forums and input sessions are not off the table by any means. We also got a scathing statement from board member Shonda Harris-Muhammed.

She calls the process flawed and says the board should ask the state to extend the deadline. She even declares they should stop the process and remove the current selection firm.

"We have to get this one right," said former city council member Marty Jewel. "We didn't get the last one right. Sorry. They are trying to make this decision, the most monumental decision they may ever make in their 4 year term, in secret. The citizens deserve better than that."

We also spoke with another board member who says an announcement about public input is forthcoming.

The following is a portion of Harris-Muhammed's statement:

At this point we need to do three things to make this right, 1) Apply for an extension to VDOE, 2) Stop the process right now and remove [the selection] firm from completing this process, and 3) add all candidates back into the pool who applied through the firm and MET the qualifications we set and be interviewed by us immediately. This process has been flawed from the beginning and several school board members, including myself, are now finding out that the search firm was not honest with vetting all applications. I believe they intentionally left highly qualified candidates out because some people were trying to make a back door deal.

-Shonda Harris-Muhammed

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