Hamilton County school board narrows search for interim superintendent to 3 finalists

From left are Hamilton County School Board members Dr. Jonathan Welch, Superintendent Rick Smith, Donna Horn, Dr. Greg Martin and Joe Galloway.

The applicants who applied for the interim superintendent position:

- Kirk Kelly, acting superintendent and former assistant superintendent of testing and accountability for Hamilton County schools- Jill Levine, principal at Normal Park Museum Magnet School- Shaun Sadler, retired commanding officer with the United States Marine Corps- Robert Purifico, president and CEO of We R 3C Inc., a New Jersey nonprofit- Robert Christensen, retired associate professor at Oklahoma State University- Bobbie Floyd, leasing consultant at Steeplechase Apartments- Dwight Mayberry, program director at Mayberry Afterschool Learning Centers- Yashika Ward, property manager at the Chattanooga Housing Authority

School board members’ selections for interviews:

Donna Horn: Kelly, Levine and SadlerJoe Galloway: Kelly, Levine and MayberrySteve Highlander: Kelly, Mayberry and SadlerGreg Martin: Kelly, Purifico and SadlerKaritsa Mosley: Kelly, Levine and MayberryGeorge Ricks: Kelly and LevineDavid Testerman: KellyRhonda Thurman: Kelly, Mayberry, and SadlerJonathan Welch: Kelly, Levine and Sadler

Three candidates remain in the running to be the Hamilton County Department of Education's interim superintendent.

The Hamilton County Board of Education decided Thursday night to ask Kirk Kelly, Jill Levine and Shaun Sadler to interview publicly next Thursday at 3 p.m.

Eight candidates had applied for the position by last week's deadline, and Thursday night each school board member wrote down the names of the three candidates they wanted to have interviewed.

A tally of the votes found that Kelly, acting superintendent of Hamilton County Schools and former assistant superintendent of testing and accountability, was selected by all nine board members to be interviewed. He was school board member David Testerman's only selection.

Five votes were given to Levine, principal at Normal Park Museum Magnet School, and Sadler, a retired commanding officer with the United States Marine Corps.

Dwight Mayberry, program director at Mayberry After School Learning Centers, received four votes, and one vote went to Robert Purifico, president and CEO of We R 3C Inc., a New Jersey nonprofit organization. Neither will be asked to interview.

School board Chairman Jonathan Welch told the board he thinks it should take some sort of action after the interviews next week.

After the vote, school board members discussed with their attorney, Scott Bennett, how and if they should decide on interview questions beforehand.

"I don't want you to limit yourself as a board by only being able to ask candidates predetermined questions," Bennett told the board.

Welch said he wanted the interview process to be as fair as possible, advising that some questions be prepared by the board and asked to every candidate.

The board members decided to send questions they want to be asked to Bennett, who will collect them and eliminate duplicates. During the interviews the board will be able to ask follow-up questions based on the candidates' answers.

School board member George Ricks wanted to make sure it was clear before the interview that the three are applying for the interim position and not the permanent job.

"We don't exactly know the time frame of this job," he said.

He added that he doesn't need to interview Levine or Kelly, because he knows them from working in the school system, and that he thinks he'll need more time questioning Sadler.

Welch again said he wanted everything to be fair and that everyone would have an interview of about the same length.

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at kendi.anderson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow on twitter @kendi_and.