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Letter: NJSBA Responds to Parent Concerns Over Search

Lawrence S. Feinsod, Ed.D, Executive Director New Jersey School Boards Association

A January 8 South Brunswick Patch article, “Parents Speak Out about Superintendent Search,” contains fallacies about the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) and its superintendent search service.

The article contains extensive quotes from a member of the community. However, the Patch did not contact the NJSBA for verification of the statements or for further information. As a result, the January 8 article incorrectly portrays the work of NJSBA and is rife with presumption.

Therefore, I am providing the following information about our organization and its superintendent search service:

1. The New Jersey School Boards Association is a non-partisan federation of the state’s local boards of education. It is not connected to the state Department of Education. Contrary to a statement by a township resident quoted in the article, searches conducted by NJSBA are not “subject to political forces” of state government or any other entity.

2. Contrary to a statement contained in the article, the New Jersey School Boards Association did not conduct the Montclair superintendent search.

3. The article does not mention NJSBA’s extensive experience, spanning four decades, in providing superintendent search services. We are very proud of our record of success and the satisfaction of local boards of education with our process. NJSBA conducts the majority of superintendent searches in New Jersey.

4. Contrary to a statement made by the township resident about the Highland Park superintendent search, NJSBA does not “hire” superintendents. The type of service provided in Highland Park is a board-directed process. NJSBA assists the board in developing criteria, a procedure that includes community and staff forums. It processes the applications, and based on the application materials, it ranks the candidates as to whether they meet or exceed the board’s criteria. NJSBA then presents the board with all candidates and assists it in developing interview questions. The board of education, however, selects the candidates to be interviewed, conducts the interviews, contacts references, selects the finalist, and negotiates the terms of the contract.

Any individual hired as a superintendent in New Jersey must hold an administrator’s certificate, which is awarded based on satisfying requirements established by the state Board of Education. Any training received through a professional development organization, such as the one mentioned by the township resident in your article, would not circumvent the state’s administrator certification requirements.

The South Brunswick Board of Education selected a different level of search service than the one chosen by the Highland Park school board. For the South Brunswick search, NJSBA will also conduct preliminary interviews of selected candidates and will identify those best qualified, but will present to the board all applicants. The board will conduct further interviews and will select the finalist.

The January 8 article noted that the South Brunswick Board of Education was scheduled to conduct a public information session on the superintendent search process that same evening.  An NJSBA field service representative was present at the meeting to describe the search process to the community.  

I hope that many of your readers attended the session to obtain a clear and accurate picture of the process that the school board will use to select the district’s next superintendent.

Sincerely,

Lawrence S. Feinsod, Ed.D.
Executive Director
New Jersey School Boards Association
sqd66 January 15, 2014 at 07:25 PM
Thank you Dr. Feinsod for your informative reply.

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