Don't expect Omaha Public Schools' next superintendent to come from a Fortune 500 company.
The Nebraska Department of Education can't grant a waiver for individuals who don't meet the professional requirements, including education experience.
Other states, most prominently New York, occasionally waive such requirements so business leaders and others can accept educator positions. The past two chancellors and the current leader of the New York City schools all have been given waivers.
“I begged for waivers early but was told very clearly ‘No,' ” Gary Solomon, CEO of Proact Search, told the OPS board Monday.
He sought the waiver to broaden the applicant pool, but Nebraska does not allow it.
Solomon updated the board Monday afternoon on the progress of the OPS search.
As of Monday morning, 78 people from all over the country and with a wide range of experience had applied, he said.
“We are pleased beyond words with the quality of the candidate pool,” he said.
The firm will accept applications through Nov. 10.
The board has contracted with Proact to help it find the district's next permanent superintendent. Former Ralston Superintendent Virginia Moon is leading OPS in the interim.
John Mackiel retired from OPS this summer after 40 years, the last 15 as its leader.
In Nebraska, individuals seeking the superintendent endorsement must qualify for a teaching certificate, an administrative certificate and at least two years of teaching experience.
“Other states may have waivers to their laws, but Nebraska doesn't,” said Brian Halstead, assistant commissioner for the Department of Education.
For the OPS job, Solomon plans to nominate eight to 10 candidates to the board. Six or seven of those will likely get interviews.
From there, the board will name public finalists and have meet-and-greets with the community. The board plans to pick a permanent superintendent by Dec. 17.
At its Monday evening meeting, the board also OK'd a policy aimed at preventing any more million-dollar surprises.
The board vote was 8-0, with Justin Wayne abstaining and three members absent.
The policy, which was approved by a board committee last week, formalizes how all OPS employee contracts should be handled.
The board and the district recently failed to properly plan for a million-dollar lump-sum retirement payout for Mackiel, although more than 90 percent of the payment came from a special clause the board agreed to place in his contract in 2004.
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