Trustee Estep Questions Board Messaging on Superintendent Search

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Last week, in announcing the five finalists for the Saline Area Schools superintendent job, a district press release reported there were 18 applicants for the job.

At Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, Trustee Susan Estep, Board Secretary, appeared to question that number. Trustee Dennis Valenti was providing the board with a brief update on the superintendent search when Estep asked a question that brought a moment of awkwardness to the meeting..

"Trustee Valenti, did you mention how many candidates that we looked at?" Estep asked.

Valenti replied.

"I did not state how many total candidates we had but there were eighteen candidates," Valenti said.

Estep countered.

"Six of those didn't submit their application, I believe, so we had 12, right?" Estep asked.

At that point, Board President Jennifer Steben interjected.

"Susan, I going to take that offline," Steben said. 

It's unclear what she meant by that.

Estep appeared taken aback by Steben's interjection.

"For the number of candidates that applied?" Estep asked.

Steben asked if Estep had a specific question around the issue.

Estep said she wanted the public to know.

"I want the public to know how many candidates that we have who submitted applications," Estep said.

Steben voiced concern that this discussion might be violating some of the privileged information discussed during the five-hour meeting held last week behind closed doors to review the applicants.

"I think we might be getting into an area that was discussed or in closed session," Steben said. "I'd be happy to confirm the number. I don't have the closed session contents in front of me. I'd be happy to confirm that and we can publicly put that on the website if it's not already there."

Steben asked if there were any other questions. Trustee Aramide Boatswain asked for the board to recess for five minutes, noting the board meeting had already been going on for two hours. The board did break

You can listen to the exchange here.

The Saline Post contacted Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Curt Ellis to shed light on the question about the number of candidates who applied. Ellis did not have that answer. He said he'd been removed from the process by the board due to concern about a conflict of interest, though he did not understand the nature of that conflict.

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