The firm that will lead the new Omaha superintendent search says it specializes in finding leaders for large urban school districts.
It recently completed searches in two prominent urban districts, including one that brought the national superintendent of the year to North Carolina's Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Proact Search applies to handle only certain searches around the country, CEO Gary Solomon said, and the Omaha search fit the company's niche.
“Because of our track record of working with those types of systems,” Solomon said, “I think we'll have a great chance of being successful in Omaha.”
The Omaha school board chose Proact Search of Wilmette, Ill., Monday to lead the new effort to find a superintendent for the Omaha Public Schools. Superintendent John Mackiel is retiring at the end of August.
In November, the board interviewed Proact and Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, also based in Illinois, about leading the board's first superintendent search. The board, however, chose the Hazard firm.
That search led to the hiring of Nancy Sebring, then superintendent of the Des Moines Public Schools. She resigned from the Omaha job last month after sexually explicit emails that she sent from her work account became public.
Solomon said his firm puts all applicants “through an extensive reference and background process.”
“Certainly, that's critically important here,” he said.
Proact has recently helped diverse districts with enrollments almost three times the size of OPS find new superintendents.
Proact contracted with the school board for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, a district of 140,746 students, two-thirds of whom are minorities.
The Charlotte board named three finalists: Kriner Cash, superintendent of the Memphis City Schools, a district of 113,000 students; Ann Clark, Charlotte's chief academic officer, a 29-year veteran of the district and a former national principal of the year; and Heath Morrison, superintendent of the Washoe (Nev.) County Schools, a system of 64,000 students.
Morrison was named National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators.
He started the Charlotte job Monday.
Solomon said Morrison's hiring in Charlotte was “a tremendous success.”
The organization also helped land a new leader for the Dallas Independent School District, a system of 157,000 students.
Proact presented 11 candidates to the Dallas board, which trimmed the list to five.
The Dallas board recently hired Mike Miles, a West Point graduate and former superintendent of an 11,200-student school district in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Proact visited administrator conferences and recruited specific candidates for the Dallas job, said Lew Blackburn, president of the district's board of trustees.
“It's not just a matter of posting on the website and letting people submit their résumés,” he said. “They went out looking for the better people in the nation. Not just in Texas, not just in north Texas, but across the nation.”
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