Who will lead Minneapolis’ Public Schools?

Superintendent search narrows to six

Minneapolis Public Schools District Headquarters
Minneapolis Public Schools District Headquarters

Minneapolis Public Schools is on the search for a new superintendent of schools. On Monday, November 9, during a school board meeting, approximately 70 people were in attendance, while nine school board directors (Don Samuels, Tracine Asberry, Nelson Inz, Josh Remintz, Jenny Arneson, Kim Ellison, Siad Ali, Rebecca Gagnon, Carla Bates) and one student representative were on hand at the Davis Student Center on Broadway to discuss, in public, the process that will be used to choose the new superintendent.

The Special Meeting, as titled by the school board, was facilitated by Ted Blaesing, Ph.D., of HYA Executive Search (Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates), “the nation’s largest education executive search firm,” according to their website. A couple of suggestions Blaesing had for the board members were to “make questions fair and equitable. Each director should ask each candidate the same questions in the same way. Also, watch the candidates’ use of the word ‘I.’”

Fifty-five individuals nationwide applied for the positon. Another 10-12 had multiple conversations with the firm but decided not to pursue the position. Of those that decided to move forward after initial conversations, a few more withdrew as well, according to Blaesing.

The current six candidates are, in no particular order, Michael Goar (current interim superintendent), Charles Foust, Jesse Rodriguez, Jinger Gustafson, Kenneth Spells, and Sergio Paez.

The Special Meeting included a review of the potential questions that will be asked of the candidates, such as:

  • How do you work with ELL students?
  • How will you improve academic outcomes for children usually underserved by MPS?
  • How will you address the strategic plan to help advance MPS students?
  • How will you establish and maintain relationships with students?
  • Why are you the right person for MPS at this time?

The board plans on looking at strengths, opportunities, challenges, and leadership style.

Director Asberry stated, “I want to make sure that we are not giving applicants answers. We should be confident that they can handle this job, when at meetings or when decision-making.”

This statement was related to questions that arose about redirecting applicants if they do not understand the question. They answered this by saying applicants should be confidant and creative. The consummate superintendent will embody the spirit of where MPS wants to take its students.

The first-round of interviews will be held on the November 16 and 17, and the next meeting to narrow the six candidates down to three will be held Wednesday, November 18. On December 1-3, second-round interviews will be held that will include a group of administrators and MPS staff to give different perspectives.

Brandi Phillips welcomes reader response to bphillips@spokesman-recorder.com.