One candidate withdraws, three move on to school board interviews in Hamilton County Schools superintendent search

Left to right, Justin Robertson, Jermaine Dawson and Christopher Bernier are pictured in this combination photo.

Hamilton County Schools superintendent candidate Jim McIntyre has withdrawn from the search, narrowing the pool to three finalists slated to interview with the Hamilton County Board of Education in the two weeks following Thanksgiving.

McIntyre's resume and name are no longer on the school district's superintendent search page, and Hamilton County spokesperson Janelle Drake confirmed McIntyre withdrew from the search in a Tuesday email to the Times Free Press.

"My personal and professional circumstances have changed considerably in the past week, which led to my withdrawal last Friday. I still believe the superintendent position will be an outstanding opportunity for a strong leader to build on the excellent academic progress of the past few years in HCS," McIntyre told the Times Free Press by email.

McIntyre was the only candidate left in the top four with prior superintendent experience, leading Knox County Schools for eight years, and is the second candidate to withdraw from the superintendent search process.

John Tucker, originally one of the top five candidates, withdrew before the Board of Education meeting Nov. 8, a decision not acknowledged during the meeting. Like McIntyre's, his resume and name were removed from the school district website.

The top three candidates advancing to interviews with the school board include one internal candidate and two from out of state:

- Christopher Bernier, chief of staff of Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada.

- Jermaine Dawson, chief academic and accountability officer of Birmingham City Schools in Birmingham, Alabama.

- Justin Robertson, interim deputy superintendent of Hamilton County Schools.

Robertson, the sole internal candidate, has consistently ranked highest in board member candidate rankings. He has worked in Hamilton County Schools since 2008 as an assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, chief schools officer and most recently as chief operations officer and interim deputy superintendent.

Before becoming chief of staff in 2019, Bernier worked as associate superintendent of Orange County Schools in Orange County, Florida, from 2010-2019 and as senior director of professional development from 2007-2009.

Dawson became a finalist after Tucker withdrew. Before his current role, he most recently worked as zone superintendent for Fulton County Schools in Fulton County, Georgia, from 2019-2020 and as North Florida state director of Charter Schools USA from 2018-2019.

Before candidate interviews, school board chair Tucker McClendon will hold a community town hall at 5 p.m. Nov. 22, according to the superintendent search page.

Interviews with the top three candidates will begin the week after Thanksgiving and each will be livestreamed at 5:30 p.m. Bernier will be interviewed Nov. 30, followed by Dawson on Dec. 2 and Robertson on Dec. 7.

The board will choose the next superintendent Dec. 9, replacing former superintendent Bryan Johnson. Johnson resigned in July after four years in the role to take on a leadership position at trucking and logistics company U.S. Xpress.

Contact Anika Chaturvedi at achaturvedi@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.